“Patric Niederhauser: Swiss paces”

Niederhauser celebrates at Hockenheim. © Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic

When one thinks of nations with winding history of motorsport, Switzerland is rarely the first that comes to mind.

Following the 1955 Le Mans tragedy, the Swiss government passed an outright ban on motor racing, with only time trials allowed to take place.

A vote by the Swiss parliament’s Lower House in 2007 brought the matter to discussion, however the Senate refused to rescind the ban.
It’s unfortunate for a country that enjoyed a glorious period in Grand Prix racing at the classic Bremgarten circuit during the two decades leading to the ban.

Whereas the likes of Peter Sauber* have become legendary in the sport, Switzerland has – up until recently – been starved
More recently IndyCar’s Simona de Silvestro and ex-Formula 1 driver Sebastien Buemi have raced under the nation’s colours, with Mathéo Tuscher (Formula 2) and Simon Trummer (GP3) snapping at their heels.

Another young driver carving out a career in the junior levels is Patric Niederhauser. Born in Münslingen, within the Aare valley region, Niederhauser was a relative late starter, only taking up karting at the age of 14.
After finishing runner-up in the Swiss Karting Championship in 2009, Niederhauser joined the then newly born Formula Abarth Series with the Jenzer Motorsport team – a relationship that still exists today.

Early success in Formula Abarth (he was runner-up in his first season) prompted Niederhauser to continue on that path, where he took the title of the renamed Formula Abarth Italia Series last year.
With his eyes firmly on the top tier of single-seater motorsport, Niederhauser continued his association with Jenzer – this time in the GP3 Series – in what has already been quite a successful venture.

Two victories, a podium and a fastest lap in the opening five rounds have placed Niederhauser 4th in the standings with 75 point – one a single point behind Daniel Abt. Series leaders Mitch Evans and Aaro Vainio are some way down the road.
The 20-year-old raised some eyebrows at both Silverstone and the Hockenheimring this year, following a pair of stunning performances in wet conditions.

At a drying Silverstone, the Swiss racer was, at times, nearly four seconds per lap faster than his similarly-tyred rivals; however Niederhauser would eventually lose out to the slick-shod Will Buller.
His win in Germany, however, was sheer class.

Recently, I contacted Patric to learn more about the racer and to garner his thoughts on a thrilling GP3 season thus far.


The Motorsport Archive: As it stands, I believe there is still no circuit-based motorsport in your native Switzerland.
With that absent, could you describe what it was that brought you to the sport of motor racing originally?

Patric Niederhauser: With the age of 4 year I started with ice hockey. I loved to play this sport but when I was 13 I had a lot of problems with my hips. I had to stop with that great sport and we looked for something different.
As I was a big fan of any Motorsports since I was born, we started to race with karts and that’s how I found my new passion.

TMA : You came to GP3 as the reigning Formula Abarth Italia champion. In terms of competition, how have you found the GP3 Series so far?

PN: The GP3 series is a very competitive series with a lot of very good drivers. The gaps are so close that there is no space for mistakes. You have to be very precise with your driving.

TMA : How have you found the GP3 car, compared to what you raced previously and have you had to adapt your style to suit it ?

PN: The GP3 car is much heavier and more powerful than a formula abarth. It produces much more downforce which affects the corner speeds and the breaking performance a lot.
You can’t drive this car as aggressive as the formula abarth. I’m still working to adapt my driving style to this car. I have to drive much smoother as I do now.

TMA : As you have never raced on a majority of the GP3 circuits, how do you prepare for tackling new venues?

PN: I look a lot of onboard videos. From almost every track exept Monaco, the team had already some data from previous years, so I speak a lot with the engineers of Jenzer Motorsport. They have a lot of experience and know all the tricks.

TMA : This is your third season with Jenzer Motorsport. How do you feel this lasting relationship has determined your performance this year, if it has at all?

PN: It did it a lot. Jenzer Motorsport is a very professional team which has all my confidence. It is a big advantage if you know the team already and if they know you as well.
We did a great job the two years in formula Abarth so we decided to work together also in the GP3 Series.

TMA : At Jenzer, you are teammates with Robert Visoiu. Have you had an opportunity to build a working relationship with Robert and could you give an insight as to how that relationship is developing?

PN: […] with Visoiu the working development together works very good as we know us already from Formula Abarth. Sadly we don’t have a 3rd driver for the entire season but I still learned few things from other drivers like [Facu] Regalia.

TMA : Onto this season in GP3, from your perspective, how would you describe your first year in the category so far?

PN: Well, already the start in Barcelona was very good form e with P4 and P5. The race in Monaco was just not as good as we hoped.But since then it works very well form me.
My personal targets before the season was to drive regularly into the top ten and know I have already two victories and one podium.
This year runs just great for me and the team.

TMA : Finally, what goals have you set for yourself for 2012 and do you feel you are closing in on those set targets?

PN: After the good results from the past weekends I had to rethink about my targets for 2012. As I fight now with Daniel Abt for the rookie title my target now is to end up the championship under the top five but of course I’ll fight for more.
Depending how the next rounds are going, we might start to fight fort he championship.

The GP3 Series continues this weekend with round 6 taking place at the Hungaroring. My thanks to Patric for his time with this interview and also Esther Lauber for facilitating the Q&A.

* {note 1}
Peter Sauber started out racing in hillclimbing events, eventually taking the Swiss Hillclimb championship in 1970 behind the wheel of the Ford-powered Sauber C1.

Taking another win in Germany. © Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic

Leave a Reply