Lucas Auer admits it is ‘incredible’ that he will be having his first test in a Formula 1 car next week at the Hungaroring, when he takes to the track for the Sahara Force India F1 Team.
The Austrian has become a genuine frontrunner in the DTM Series in recent years after switching from single seaters, but he hopes this opportunity will open doors about a potential move into Formula 1.
“To be honest, it is incredible,” said Auer to Motorsport.com. “In motorsport you go from hero to loser in three months, and you go from loser to hero in three months.
“It is just crazy this motorsport world because things can change so quickly.”
Auer sits just two points off the top of the championship standings after two wins in 2017 so far, and he feels he has improved significantly since he made his DTM debut back in 2015, the year that saw Pascal Wehrlein win the championship before switching to Formula 1.
“In my first year in DTM I had to learn, as everybody saw Pascal had to do as well, and it is very difficult for a young guy,” said Auer. “Last year being with a customer team and winning a race, that was my breakthrough.
“This year I had a pretty good start to the season and, as the youngest DTM driver and with teams looking for somebody, Force India with the Mercedes engine fitted very well. I had a great start, and had a couple of contacts, so people are looking at supporting some young guns.”
Auer says testing a Formula 1 car is a childhood dream coming true, although it came as a little bit of a surprise after turning his back on single seaters at the end of 2014 in favour of racing tin tops.
“And you can imagine for me it is a childhood dream come true,” said Auer. “When I started out as 4-5 years old in karting, my eyes were only on F1. But after F3, it changed for me. I got an opportunity from Mercedes to drive in DTM.
“I am very happy there and it is a great championship, but of course to get now this test and an opportunity to drive an F1 car is amazing and of course I am excited – especially to be doing it with a top team like Force India.”
Auer raced in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Mücke Motorsport back in 2014 and competed against current Formula 1 drivers Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon, winning three times that season and finishing fourth in the standings, and he admits he has respect for both drivers.
“Of course I have big respect for those two – and I raced with Esteban also in DTM,” said Auer. “They were always impressive.
“Of course sometimes you look back to the F3 races and you think you overtook this guy and won this race…. But anyway, everything happens for a reason. I went to DTM, so let’s keep on working and then see what is possible.”
Auer says being successful in DTM can mean a move to Formula 1, with previous champions Paul di Resta and Wehrlein both having jumped straight from the German championship into Formula 1, whilst Ocon also made some appearances in DTM before his mid-season switch into F1 last year.
“It is no secret that if you impress in those tests, this is a good plus point for you and your career,” said Auer. “Esteban did a great job there, so it was right to sign him up.
“Pascal and Paul [di Resta] also showed it is possible to go from touring cars to F1, but for me it is quite early. I have to be happy I get a test, and it is also an opportunity to do well.
“Let’s see what else will happen. But first you have to do a pretty impressive job in DTM to get somewhere else.”
Auer is currently treating this test as a one-off, and he is looking to do the best job possible as he fulfils a childhood ambition, and should he do well, he hopes it could lead to more.
“At the moment I have the feeling it is a one-off but it is also an opportunity,” said Auer.
“Most important for me, because it is a childhood dream, is to enjoy every second and try to perform well, work hard and give the team the impression that you are able to drive the car, able to develop the car. After that, we will see what happens.”