Your 1992 BMW M5 special edition is called “20 Years of BMW Motorsport” – and this year BMW M is celebrating its own 50-year anniversary. What in your opinion has changed over the last 30 years of motor sport – and what hasn’t?
I’ve been driving racing cars for 28 years, almost exclusively our marque by the way, so I think I’m able to judge. Put simply, the principle is still to cross the finishing line first! But the details have got more complicated, because in motorsport today – as in every other field of life – we try and exclude any element of chance or risk. Vehicle technology, the work of the teams, the racetracks, the organisation and infrastructure, everything has acquired a very high degree of perfection.
In today’s professional motorsport there’s almost no one taking a different path from the well-trodden one. There are almost no “DIYers” or garage teams, which means there are hardly any technical retirements and almost no team errors. Most racetracks are very safe beyond the asphalt, so everyone involved is now fully focussed on delivering 100% every second of the race and hoping to win thanks to tactics, weather or Balance of Perfomance.
In the past, the time gaps were bigger, luck played a much bigger role, the driver had to deal with problems, the teams had to improvise and you still had a chance of winning. And all in the knowledge that your next mistake could be your last. And the risks were far higher. I sometimes think that a middle way, one that removed some of the technical perfection, would be better. Especially in Europe we love engineers’ motorsport, but we shouldn’t forget the spectators, they want to see great duels on the track, an element of unpredictability and above all honest racing without interference from outside.