An Interview With… Patric Niederhauser

Patric Niederhauser is a young Swiss GP3 Series and European Le Mans Series driver in 2013.  Whilst his seasons haven’t exactly gone to plan, its obvious that there is talent there, and it is with great joy that Patric took some time out to answer some questions for me.

GP3 series Budapest, Hungary 27-29 July 2012

Paul Hensby: How do you feel your GP3 Series season has gone?

Patric Niederhauser: Not good at all. I clearly had the goal to win this championship and I’m currently not even in the top 10.

PH: You began the season as one of the championship favourites, but it hasn’t exactly panned out that way.  Can you pinpoint what’s gone wrong for you?

PN: We started very well in Barcelona and somehow after that it went worse and worse. The general issue was the qualy. We have never qualified in the top ten anymore. Our race speed was always very good but with this car it’s really difficult to overtake. And then I was also many times unlucky. Everything just went wrong somehow.

PH: You’ve had the support of the Jenzer Motorsport since 2010, what benefits do you feel you’ve had sticking with the same outfit for such of a length of time?

PN: We know each other now very well. The workshop is very close to where I live so, I spent quite some time there before and after the races.

PH: You also made your debut in the Le Mans 24 Hour race this year with Race Performance, how did you find the race?

PN: Le Mans is awesome. It’s an absolutely great experience. Driving in the dark is crazy! – and something of the best I’ve ever done in my life.

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PH: How quickly did you manage to learn the circuit, especially with all the rain and stoppages during practice?

PN: It took me quite a while. I was still learning some tricks during the race. Specially the Porsche corners are fantastic!

PH: How easy is it to drive with four different classes in the same race? As an LMP2 driver you had to contend with LMP1 drivers overtaking you while you had to overtake the GT Pro & AM cars.  How tricky is it to keep your concentration and go for the class win?

PN: Well, it’s not easy at all. Specially during the last part of the qualy. It was like a war out there because between Audi and Toyota was a big fight for the “prestige” Pole. During the race was very difficult to see everything. Some of the GTs were very slow and all over sudden there were flashing lights from behind and an Audi passed me like a lightning. You needed to be very concentrated.

PH: You’re also been racing in the European Le Mans Series this year alongside Michel Frey, how do you feel you’re learning driving Prototypes, and how do they differ from the GP3 cars?

PN: I was learning until the end and still don’t know this car so well. It’s a lot different than any single seater. But our speed was good so I just need some more confidence and this comes with more driving.

PH: You started the ELMS season with a podium finish at Silverstone, how did that feel, and how is the atmosphere like within the team?

PN: It was great for them as they didn’t finish on the podium for a while. The atmosphere within the team was always very good – also in bad times.

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PH: What race of your career stands out for you so far?

PN: I think specially some races I’ve had last year in difficult conditions like Silverstone, Budapest and Hockenheim. But also during this years 24h of Le Mans I did a pretty good job I have to say.

PH: What’s the best track you’ve ever raced on?  And what tracks would you like to race on that you haven’t had the opportunity to so far?

PN: I think it’s the Circuit de la Sarthe. Of course, Spa is absolutely beautiful to drive as many others but in Le Mans you are most of the time on the public road and the walls are really close there so, no place for any mistakes. And this makes it special.

PH: Who do you rate as your toughest teammate to date in your career?  Also, who has been your fiercest rival on track?

PN: I think this was Sergey Sirotkin during my time in the Formula Abarth. I fought for the title with him.

PH: What made you want to be a racing driver? Do you remember the moment that you decided this was the career for you?

PN: It actually was a dream since my childhood.

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PH: Are there any drivers from the past you looked up to growing up?

PN: I think there was specially one: Michael Schumacher.

PH: Your webpage says ‘On his way to Formula 1’, and I for one believe you’ve got the talent to get there.  In an ideal world, which team would you like to race for within F1?

PN: For one of the top teams for sure! Red Bull or Ferrari.

PH: You’ve got the first race for GP3 series outside of Europe coming up in Abu Dhabi, what do you feel you can do there?

PN: I have a good feeling as this is a new track for everybody. I need some good results to the end of this year. Really hope to go for a podium there.

PH: Do you know where you’d like to be for the 2014 season?  Another year in GP3 or could you go to GP2 or Formula Renault, or somewhere else?

PN: GP2 and World Series are pretty unrealistic as the budget is insane. Most probably I’ll drive one more year GP3 but if we don’t find the budget I’ll have to look for something different. Endurance for example.

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PH: Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to these questions! I believe you’ve got the talent to reach your goal of Formula 1, even with this year not going to plan.  Good luck for the remaining races of your season in GP3 & ELMS.

PN: Thank you!

Patric Niederhauser races the #11 Jenzer Motorsport car in the GP3 Series in 2013, and the #34 Race Performance Oreca 03 Judd in the European Le Mans Series.  I wish him luck in the remaining races of the season, in Abu Dhabi (GP3) and Paul Ricard (ELMS).  Follow him on twitter at @P_Niederhauser.

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