The youngest addition to the Audi Sport stable, 21-year-old French single-seater veteran, Adrien Tambay, was given an opportunity to race in the DTM this season, having raced in open-wheel categories since his debut in the Formula BMW ADAC series, which includes Auto GP, GP3 and the F3 Euroseries. Like his famous father, he has decided to forge a career in racing, and looks set to aim high at full throttle.
He has also raced against the likes of Mexican GP2 racer Esteban Gutiérrez, America’s next F1 hopeful, Alexander Rossi and current BMW DTM test driver Marco Wittman during his career so far, and made the jump to the most internationally-recognised touring car series earlier this year, joining the Ingolstadt outfit.
He was looking forward to the chance to race in the most internationally recognized touring car series, as he was able to talk to us here, exclusively at theCheckeredFlag.co.uk, just before racing got underway at Hockenheim, and said about how he felt the moment he was told he’d be racing in Europe this season: “This moment felt very good because a personal dream came true. It was actually exciting for me to get this answer from Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. Honestly I was very proud when I realized this chance and opportunity.”
It didn’t take Adrien that long to adapt his driving style behind the wheel of the new A5 DTM from the experience he had gained in racing single seaters, and found that he was quick initially: “In my first tests with the A5 DTM, I was quite quick and I realized that the car has a very good down-force and has a good speed in quick corners. So in the end, it wasn´t so difficult for me to adapt the driving style and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
Tambay is a second-generation racer, with his father Patrick Tambay, having had a career in Formula One, most notably with Scuderia Ferrari and Renault, originally debuting with Team Surtees in 1977. As with any father that has competed in racing before, especially in F1, Adrien explained that his father has plenty of advice to give him: “But it´s not always easy to take this advice, especially if you have a father with a similar racing background. But I have done it, and I´m very happy that my father stands beside me.”
Timo Scheider, Adrien’s Abt Sportsline teammate, has helped the young Frenchman acclimatise to the challenges of the DTM from single-seaters, as Timo himself has made the transition himself. The 21-year-old fitted in well with the team, and got on very well with the two-time DTM champion from 2008 & 2009 from the very beginning: “Timo helped me quite a lot to get integrated into the team and also on the DTM technicalities. Furthermore, we both just live a few minutes away from each other in Austria and we are becoming good friends. For sure, in the end, we are also competitors and each of us has his own way of doing things. I´m very happy that I can work with both him and Mattias Ekström.”
With the way that BMW Motorsport has surprised this year, Adrien also understands that it was not as much as a surprise to him, with their return to the DTM this season after 20 years away: “Well, I have a great respect for them, because they were entering back into the DTM, and were very impressive after a long time away. Actually I´m not so surprised and I think they are doing a good job at such a high level.”
But even though Munich has brought the fight back to both Audi and Mercedes-Benz in the new “DTM-Era”, Adrien has said that all involved at both Ingolstadt and Kempten will be pushing hard for next season, and will work hard together to achieve the best results possible.
His biggest success this season was at the penultimate round at Valencia, getting into Q4 for the very first time in 4th Place, and followed that up with a fantastic 2nd place race result, behind BMW’s Augusto Farfus. This clearly showed that Adrien’s performances have been improving as the season has progressed, but in a year where it has been so close for all concerned, each driver seems to have good and bad weekends, as Adrien retired on the very first lap at Hockenheim with damaged rear suspension. He talked briefly about his highlights this season: “Yes, of course. My first podium and second place in common was one of the biggest highlights in my career until now and this is in my first DTM season. Next to this highlight, the show-event in Munich was a really great moment together with Timo.”
The future does look very bright for this young French racer, who looks forward to racing again for Audi next season, as he, along with some of the young crop of drivers, look to enjoy more close racing next year, as the DTM surges forward to new territories and invites more competition from 2014. I asked Adrien about how he sees his future in the category: “This success just gave me extra boost, extra confidence and an extra will to work harder to have a similar success in the near future or maybe in my next DTM season. And for myself, I know that I can do it. So I hope that there will be more moments like this one. I think if you work hard for a dream, you can make your dream become true.”
And a final question that really I thought was worth asking the French driver was the possibility of DTM going into France for next season, before the official calendar was announced for next season earlier this week, as well as asking whether it would be great to see the V8 beasts roaring around circuits like Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard: “Well for me, it would be great to have a race in my home country. I don´t know yet what the race calendar looks like, but sure, if we got to France it´s going to be a nice thing for me. If we are not going to France, it doesn´t matter. Then we’ll drive somewhere else for the races.”
As Adrien now looks ahead to a rising career in the DTM, which should hopefully provide a fantastic learning curve, plus a springboard into other racing series, potentially even F1, if it comes calling, This is as well as having fans that will support him faithfully, irrespective of wherever he races. You could say that Adrien has that little bit of “je ne sais quoi” that will stand him in good stead in years to come….. Allez-y!