When Christian Vietoris stormed to victory in only his second GP2 Asia race at Abu Dhabi last November, cautious attention flowed the way of the then 20-year-old German driver. Questions as to whether the young man could bring his natural speed to the tougher main series were inevitably raised, but while the ability has been there, his luck has often been absent as witnessed with a number of mechanical failures so far this year.
So as the German Grand Prix weekend fast approaches, I had a brief Q&A with the now 21-year-old Racing Engineering driver to garner his views on the year so far, thoughts for the future and everything else in between.
F1 Archive: The first half of the GP2 season is now complete and while it’s been a fairly difficult year, there has definitely been pace in your performances. How do you see the rest of the season panning out and what do you feel you need to do to get the optimum results?
Christian Vietoris: Of course it has been a very hard season so far – after the good pre season tests where we have been always in the top 3 and never had just one technical problem we haven’t expected that. But we can’t chance it we have to deal with that. The positive point is still that we are very fast even on tracks I have no experience on – so that still keeps my motivation up and I’m sure we will fight for poles and races wins.
F1A: You had a decent points score at Silverstone, tell me about that.
CV: Well. Silverstone was a good weekend. We qualified 3rd for the first race – so again we have been fast but unfortunately we took over a [ten place grid] penalty from Valencia. But still we scored point and overtook the most cars in the race.
F1A: You were also running a very solid 2nd place at the Sprint race in Istanbul earlier this year when you retired with a mechanical issue. Do you find situations like that frustrating or are you encouraged because the fundamental speed is there?
CV: Of course it`s frustrating – especially because it was not the first time – but all this problems were not in the hands of the team, this I want to make sure. We know that we have a strong team – I feel very well in the team and as well in the car.
F1A: Of course, this weekend you find yourself at Hockenheim – what are your thoughts of the circuit and what expectations do you have of the weekend?
CV: Hockenheim is a track I know very well – which is the first time that we go to a track I know – and it’s as well my home race so I’m looking forward to that and hope we can fight for the race win.
F1A: On a weekend where you are back racing in Germany, how do you prepare for a race? Do yo have rituals in the days building up to a race weekend or at this level, is it all briefings and meetings?
CV: I’m in contact with my team all the time and if there is time we have meetings before the races at the workshop. On the other hand I try to be as fit as possible for the weekends so I prepare myself for that.
F1A: Although you are the only German driver in GP2, there are currently six of your countrymen in Formula 1 – including the great Michael Schumacher. Does this make it difficult to attract sponsors and break through?
CV: It’s a very hard time to find sponsors and this is not affected by the situation that Michael Schumacher is back in F1.
F1A: Like a majority of drivers today, you got into karting at a very young age – could you tell me about your road through the ranks of the sport since then?
CV: Well. I started in karting with the age of 5 – after very good and successful years I moved up into the Formula BMW, which I won in my second year as a price I tested the Formula 1 car of BMW in Valencia. From there on I spend two years in the Formula 3 Euro series where I finished 2nd overall. And now I’m in the GP2..
F1A: After your spells in the F3 EuroSeries and in GP2 Asia, how much of a step up has the main GP2 Series been in terms of both machinery and competition?
CV: GP2 Asia was good to learn how to drive the car, how to push the tires etc. And to be honest in driving point of view it`s not a big difference just everything around you is more professional.
F1A: During the Asia series, there was some three months in between the first two rounds; when you’re not racing for such a long period, how do you keep yourself occupied? What hobbies do you have that keep you ticking over during quiet times?
CV: I like to do a lot of sports – playing football, basketball, badminton so you can use this time to prepare yourself for the next races or the next season.
F1A: With 2010 already half-over, have you achieved what you had set out to do and what are your goals for the rest of the season?
CV: With a few technical problems – not in hands of the team – we had this season, we are not there where we are expected to be. But we have to deal with the situation as good as possible and keep pushing. We have the speed to still turn it around!