Abt: Kick old guys out and give young guns a go.

by Russell Atkins

Christian Abt has controversially suggested both Bernd Schneider and Tom Kristensen – who count 45 DTM victories between them – should be put out to pasture if they fail to produce the goods in 2008, when he predicts as many as five or six drivers could battle for the crown.

The German hung up his own helmet following eight seasons of competition in the fiercely-competitive pan-European touring car series at the end of last year. He will henceforth focus his efforts on running Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, dovetailing that role with acting as a mentor to Audi's young up-and-coming hopes – whom he sees irrefutably as the championship's future.

“The young drivers,” he told Crash.net, when asked who he believed would shine in 2008, “like [2007 title contender Martin] Tomczyk, or Oliver Jarvis who's coming in and is very good. Then there's Alex Prémat, who for me is one of the best drivers in the DTM, and [Bruno] Spengler and [Paul] di Resta.

“I think di Resta is very, very strong. Spengler I think will be very strong this year too, but [Jamie] Green less so. If Schneider cannot win the championship I think it's the last year for him and Mercedes should kick him out – that's for sure.

“On the Audi side, I think with Tom [Kristensen] it's the last chance; if this year he's not the quickest at Audi then they have the same problem as Mercedes do with Schneider – I think he should drive only sportscars.

“Tomczyk will be very strong I think; last year he was very good, but Audi are always looking out for [Mattias] Ekström. For me I think Ekström, Spengler, di Resta and Tomczyk will be the top four.

“I think we have the best drivers in the world in this championship, with young drivers coming from GP2 to the DTM. One or two make it to Formula 1, but the others come to the DTM – not the BTCC or GTs for example.

“The DTM is a completely international championship. We drive four races in Germany on some of the best tracks – Hockenheim, the Nürburgring, Norisring and the Lausitzring – and five races elsewhere in Europe, in Spain, France Italy, Great Britain and Holland. Only the name is German.”

The 40-year-old was similarly forthright in his views on what new Mercedes signing Ralf Schumacher might achieve in the category, given fellow ex-Formula 1 aces such as Mika Hakkinen, Jean Alesi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen all shone sporadically and won races in the DTM, but were never able to find sufficient consistency in order to string together a genuine title bid.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Tom Kristensen - Abt Audi, Bernd Schneider - Vodafone AMG Mercedes [pic credit: DTM Media]
Bernd Schneider celebrates victory at the opening DTM round at Hockenheim
Christian Abt bids farewell to the DTM at Hockenheim   [pic credit: DTM]
Nico Muller, Audi, DTM [Credit: Audi Sport DTM]
Audi RS 5 DTM
Edoardo Mortara - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit DTM]
Edoardo Mortara - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit Audi Sport]
Paul di Resta - Mercedes-AMG DTM Team HWA  [pic credit Mercedes]
Edoardo Mortara - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit Audi Sport]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Edoardo Mortara - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit Audi Sport]
Edoardo Mortara - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit Audi Sport]
Antonio Felix da Costa - BMW Team Schnitzer [pic credit BMW]

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Luiggie - Unregistered

March 06, 2008 12:34 AM

I don''t agree at all. If the veterans are pensioned, Then the "young guns" have no one to learn from...seems like a Abt should have thought about his response a little bit more.

Iain Langmaid - Unregistered

April 02, 2008 7:50 PM

Ha ha!!. You just at times have to smile at what CHristian Abt says and does. DTM is going to be a lot quieter and safer now he has gone (and he won't cost someone a race win just ask messers Paffett and Green!!). But I always believe you need a mix of experience and youth so people like Spengler, Green and Di Resta the young hotshoes in the Mercedes Camp pour exampleur can learn from the more senior drivers in the team such as Schneider and Paffett.

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