Quick on the track and yet very easy-going at the same time – that’s how people in the DTM see Tyrolean all-rounder Lucas Auer, 23-year-old, Mercedes-Benz racing driver.
In this interview, Lucas talks about two major low points of his life, which eventually spurred him up towards a successful racing career…have a ball…
Q: Lucas, you have not always had it easy in your career and your life. How hard was it to handle the setbacks along the way?
Lucas Auer: I lost my dad when I was twelve and a half. My future in racing was at risk. We own a haulage company, and my mum had to run it full-time afterwards. That coincided with the economic crisis of 2008 when the problems kept mounting up. So I took a year out and didn’t drive a kart during that time. It set me back a bit, but I didn’t care, because other things were more important. That was a hard time. The positive aspect of all this was that my mum, my brother and we as a family are an incredibly strong unit. We pulled together and helped each other, so we came out of that period stronger than before.
Q:It’s to your credit that you have such a sunny disposition when you have had to cope with such setbacks along the way. Does it annoy you if someone claims that you have had it easy in your career?
Lucas Auer: My response is that the going gets tougher the higher you climb in life. That applies even more in motor racing. And if anyone claims someone else has it easy, that’s plain wrong. It’s been a rocky road for me, but also for all the others who are following the same route. That makes it all the more satisfying when you eventually graduate to a professional level in the sport and especially get to drive for Mercedes in the DTM – it’s an amazing feeling.
Q:Was there a turning point in your career after which you were destined to drive in the DTM today?
Lucas Auer: There have been two major low points along the way, but each of them served to spur me on. It’s always like this: you have to fall flat on your face, get up again and learn to do things a different way. The first of these came when I was 15. At that time, my future in karting was on a knife edge. I was devastated, because I really wanted to carry on. It was my passion. That was the moment I realized that, if you love what you do, you have to get it right. Then, for the first time, I made a plan. I went to Asia where I was reliant on my own resources and got to know another culture. It was a real education for me, and 2011 was a very important year all round.
Q:And what was the second moment?
Lucas Auer: That was at the end of my first DTM year when I was feeling really down. Although I had got my first pole position, I had also taken a lot of criticism. Before the DTM, it had been much easier for me. In previous rookie years, I had always been among the Top Five and in contention for the win. But the DTM brought me back down to earth. So that winter, I sat down and wrote myself a list. What were the positives and what were the negatives? What do I want to achieve? From then on, my career took a steep upwards curve. I had also worked hard in previous seasons, but nothing compared to the effort I put into the sport in late 2015 and early 2016. Because nothing comes from nothing. If you put your heart and soul into what you do, then doors start to open.
Q:Were you surprised by the hype in the Austria media last year, which seemed to come out of nowhere?
Lucas Auer: It seems to have steadily increased in line with my results. In 2015, they were writing: “OK, now we have someone in the DTM.” That was still on a relatively small scale. In 2016, I registered my first victory. That’s when I noticed a step change. I got more coverage and the hype got a bit bigger. This year, I’ve really noticed how everyone has cottoned on. You want your performance to be commented on – that’s how it works in sport. I think that’s cool, and I hope I can make even more progress so that we can all benefit.
Q: Many young drivers are very active on social media. That’ s not the case with you. Are you more of a private person?
Lucas Auer: I think I could get involved with social media. Of course, I keep certain things to myself, but there are also other things I’m willing to share. I have no problem with that at all. Maybe I have to work out the best way of dealing with it. But I also have to say that I have only a limited interest in mobile phones, apps and the like. That’s probably what makes the difference. I’m more the outdoors type.
Courtesy of: Oliver Kapffenstein, Mercedes-Benz DTM Communications