“When it comes to my sweetest moment in 2017, I don’t have to think long. It was the the seconds after I crossed the finish line in the last Formula E race of the season in Montreal and realised that we won the title. That wasn’t just the fantastic conclusion of an exciting season but also the deserved reward for the whole squad after three years of hard work.
A clear low was the race in Paris. A fantastic Formula E event that we’d won the year before when it was held there for the first time. This time it was a disaster with mistakes made by me and the team and zero points. At least we used up all the negatives on a single day.
As a special moment I’ll always remember the official FIA celebration in December at which all the champions of the year were honoured. Being part of that group as a champion for the first time will remain unforgettable.”
“Winning the DTM title in 2017 was awesome. However, the highlight of the season for me was my first victory at Budapest. I’d been working for that day for such a long time and then the dream was to come true. Even a few laps before the finish I had goose bumps.
The low followed a race later at the Norisring where we missed out on scoring a lot of points. I had started from the front row and ruined my race when I crossed the white line at the pit lane exit and received a drive-through penalty.
Obviously, we partied a lot following my title win. I particularly remember a night with a surprise party. I was supposed to drive my DTM car into a hall and there were about 320 guests from 15 years of racing waiting for me: former teams, mechanics who used to work on my cars, friends and family. That was a cool surprise!”
“I’d summarise my year in the phrase ‘world’s biggest loser!’ Second overall in the DTM and in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. But, all kidding aside, happiness outweighs disappointment. Obviously, I always want to stand on the very top, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out as well as it did at the Estering. In 2016 I became World Rallycross Champion there and this year we celebrated my fourth win of the season on this great race track.
I skipped my home round at Höljes because I was racing in the DTM at the Norisring at the same time. While things were going pretty well in Nuremberg I kept my fingers crossed from a distance as the principal of my rallycross team. Unfortunately, that really went awry. In terms of racing, it was a sobering event and I was disappointed because I’d been hoping for the guys to manage although I wasn’t there and to clinch a good result.
My first trip to South Africa will remain unforgettable. Although I didn’t have much time to get to know the country and the people at the World RX season finale the things I did get to see and experience have whetted my appetite for more. South Africa is now in one of the top spots on my holiday wish list.”
“The 2017 season will remain unforgettable. The two 24-hour successes at the Nürburgring and at Spa this year were hard-earned. Even though I stood on the very top of the podium in the Eifel for the third and in the Ardennes for the second time, it’s not like you’d ever get used to clinching such victories.
You have to keep battling for these successes over and over. Our advantage after a chaotic final stage at the Nürburgring was 29 seconds and only 11.8 at Spa. Then the title in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, which I also owe to Kelvin van der Linde and his strong performance, was the icing on the cake.”
My high and my low this year were only three hours apart. Following a difficult third Formula E season with lots of misfortune we started the new season in Hong Kong in December. Fifth place on Saturday and then victory on Sunday – my first one in Formula E, at my first race weekend as an Audi factory driver and, to top it off, on my 25th birthday.
I was so proud and could have hugged the whole world, until it turned out after the podium ceremony and all the interviews that the team had made an administrative mistake in completing a document and we were disqualified as a result. It took a few days to digest that. Now all that’s history and in 2018 we’re going all out again.
A special moment in 2017 was the official presentation of our team in Neuburg. It was my first appearance as an official Audi factory driver. It gives me a lot of pride to stand in the same line with so many great names.”
“My highlight of the year was my second place in Saturday’s race at Moscow. This result wasn’t to be expected three weeks after I’d broken my foot at the Norisring. Although I had to brake with my injured foot I was very quick during the whole race and almost would have had the speed to win.
The low followed two races later at the Nürburgring. It was the race on home soil for the team and me. Audi wasn’t strong there on the whole. Our car was very heavy due to the additional weight. With a 14th place on Saturday and a 17th after two tyre changes on Sunday, we missed out on too many points.
The visit of the Japanese Super GT to the season finale at Hockenheim was a great experience for me. You could sense a strong signal there and that’s encouraging for the series.”
„Der Sieg bei den 24 Stunden am Nürburgring war Spitze für Audi und hat mir in meiner Karriere weitergeholfen. Meine Teamkollegen wollten, dass ich das Auto über die Ziellinie fahre, und ausgerechnet diese Phase war dann die härteste des ganzen Rennens.
Klasse war auch der erste Sieg mit Markus Pommer für Aust Motorsport im ADAC GT Masters. Wir hatten uns Top-5-Ergebnisse als Ziel gesetzt, standen aber schon beim Auftakt auf dem Podium und haben uns noch einmal gesteigert.“
“For me the title win in the Audi Sport TT Cup has been the biggest success in my career to date. After I entered the one-make cup in 2016, there was one thing this season was more than anything else: hard work. Obviously, there was also great joy after the title win.
Thorough preparation for the individual races was crucial. I practiced the tracks on the simulator, tried out various lines and analysed lots of data. It was important for me to have control of the car so that I’d be good at the end of a race. By contrast, my immediate rival, Mikel Azcona, always gave his all straight from the start. In the end, my plan panned out and I won five races.”
“My season highlight was the double podium at the Red Bull Ring. Following a difficult mid-season, this result felt really good, especially because I was part of a podium that was fully occupied by Audi.
At the Norisring, I experienced a low. I started race two there from position three on the grid and only ended up in 13th place after a less than perfect strategy and mistakes. This was particularly disappointing because the year before I’d won from the same grid position at the Norisring.
My debut in the FIA World Rallycross Championship was a very special experience. At the rounds in France and Latvia I had the opportunity to gather initial experiences in this discipline. Although I feel like I’m in my element in the DTM it was great fun to broaden my horizons and to further develop myself.”