by Russell AtkinsTO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE
Jamie Green is heading into the 2008 DTM campaign in the best possible shape – having triumphed in the final two races of last year – but he admits it could have all been looking very different…
Up until that point during the season – with just 14.5 points on the board from eight races and lying in a lowly ninth spot in the drivers' points table, the bottom of Mercedes' four factory drivers – the former McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year's
future with the three-pointed star was on the line. However, a brace of back-to-back wins – his first in the hotly-fought pan-European touring car series in three years – catapulted Green up to fourth position in the final title chase, and quite possibly saved his seat.
“It was quite a surprise for everybody,” the 25-year-old confessed of his out-of-the-blue success, having begun the two races – in Barcelona and Hockenheim – respectively fifth and fourth. “I've been in the DTM for three years now, and had achieved everything but a win before. I had achieved fastest laps and podiums and pole positions, so podiums weren't really something that was on my mind – it was winning that was the main thing.
“Obviously it was disappointing I hadn't achieved victories earlier, but it was a good end to the year and I think crucial to my career to hopefully hold onto my seat in the factory team. It was very important for me to get a win, and I think that puts me in good stead now for 2008.”
Indeed, though the Leicestershire ace may not have displayed the same scintillating qualifying form that carried him to four pole positions in 2007 – and in so doing cemented his reputation as the DTM's most fearsome one-lap star – he puts that down to a difficulty in adapting to the new rubber used by the championship last year. What was more significant, he argues, was the fact that his race pace was significantly improved – something that will be of immeasurable benefit as he bids to lift the series laurels over the course of the forthcoming campaign.
“I didn't get any pole positions in '07,” the 2004 F3 Euroseries Champion acknowledged, “but I did qualify as the top Mercedes at the last race in Hockenheim. It was only Audis in front of me, but they weren't so strong in the race.
“The tyres were a little bit different in '07 compared to previous years, and that definitely didn't help me in qualifying where I struggled to really get the best out of them, but in race trim I was very quick. I know what I need to do in qualifying this year, and I think there's a good chance of me putting both together.
“I've got all the attributes to win a championship, and this year should be a good year for me. It's just a question of everything coming together, being confident and being happy in what I'm doing. I was much happier at the end of the year, and I think that showed in my performance.
“Obviously the DTM is a very tough formula, and Audi and Mercedes are at war because there are no other manufacturers involved. You either win or you lose – second is irrelevant. It's a tough and interesting battle, but I think our package is very good. At the end of last year we were much better than we had been at the beginning – at Hockenheim I won the race and got fastest lap, even though we were 10kg heavier than the Audis.
“I think we finished the year with a very strong package, and I've got a lot of confidence in HWA and Mercedes to develop the car over the winter. This year we are carrying over what we learned last year, whereas '07 was a fresh start in terms of the car shape and design. That was an extra challenge, but it's one we don't have to face in 2008. That will play into our hands, and with Audi having a new car hopefully it will all work out in our favour.”
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