This year, you’ll be participating in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the biggest race of the year, for Audi. To top it off, this is a year in which three manufacturers are battling for overall victory.
It feels good to return to the team of the race drivers. I’ve been to Le Mans with Audi three times – in 2011 as a reserve driver, in 2012 as a race driver and in 2013 as a spotter for my team-mates. Each of these activities has given me a different perspective and that’s very positive. The big interest by the manufacturers can clearly be felt this year. A lot of media already started to intensify their coverage of the WEC and Le Mans in winter.
Oliver Jarvis and Filipe Albuquerque are your team-mates. How well do you get along with them?
I’ve celebrated a few successes with both drivers on previous occasions. With Oliver Jarvis, I was on podium at Le Mans in 2012. Filipe and I finished the Italian GT Championship in the Audi R8 LMS as the runners-up in 2010. A year later, he helped me win the champion’s title in the finale, on my guest run for Audi Sport Italia. We’re a well-balanced team. Our lap times are similar, we’re bringing some experience from our careers to the team, and we get along with each other really well. At the teambuilding event in Lanzarote, we could already tell how well the whole team of Audi Sport harmonizes with each other.
This year, completely new rules apply. You started to be involved in the tests at an early stage. What will be the biggest challenge in 2014?
Last June, I started testing the new tire generation and have reeled off many more days of testing ever since then. The car feels very good and, due to the regulations, the tires have to be clearly slimmer. This is a big challenge for our partner Michelin with whom we worked in the right direction very constructively. The tires, like many other areas, will show that those with the most efficient driving style will be the front runners. The 2014 season feels like going back to school again and learning a lot of new things – that’s a nice challenge for the engineers and for us drivers.