Going into 2010, its difficult to judge where the World Touring Car Championship stands with BMW downsizing and SEAT pulling out altogether. How do you see the season ahead?
For sure it's a strange year but also one of my busiest with a GT programme as well. It will be an exciting year for me with Le Mans and Nurburgring so it will be an interesting year with BMW.
In the WTCC, at the end of the day, I have a really quick team-mate, we know that Chevrolet are there with three cars and there will be some really fast SEAT diesels still in the series. Some of the privateers in recent years have also been quick and able to win races so I see it as something of a sabbatical for the WTCC
but there are no easy years and it will be tough to get into the top eight.
We'll see when the grid is announced how big it is as there are a lot of teams still sorting out their plans, which is a bit late, but you have that in all forms of motorsport globally at the moment. I think it's quite common when you have a recession for people to put plans together at the last minute but I expect a tough year.
Do you still expect some of the SEAT drivers on the grid but under different team names?
For sure, yeah. They won't let the World Champion not drive at the end of the day aren't they? He will be in something fast and alongside two very fast BMWs and three fast Chevrolets, I think there will be between four and six very quick SEATs as well. I think they will have a different name, but it will be pushed in the same way.
Do you think the FIA
needs to do something to make the WTCC
more accessible financially for both manufacturers and Independents so we don't have a situation where a World Championship has just two manufacturers?
You only have to look at the DTM. They have made two manufacturers work in DTM
and it is a really strong championship. The WTCC
will be strong as well as it is affordable and it is a global championship so the ingredients are right. It is promotable and has cars that people can relate to but like in all forms of motorsport, the global economy has hit manufacturers hard and we are paying the price for it now.
I am sure that BMW's commitment to motorsport is long-term and for me in 2010, I think I have one of my busiest programmes with an exciting year ahead.
Were you ever concerned when there were rumours about BMW's future in F1 that the touring car programme could also have been at risk?