Rookie podium and championship points for Niklas Krütten at Le Castellet
Krütten made a particularly strong impression in the second and third free practice sessions, coming in at seventh and fifth fastest respectively, thereby signalling that he had the pace to compete somewhere near the front. In qualifying, however, things did not go according to plan for the 15-year-old; he could manage only P21 on the grid for Race 1, P15 for the second race and P14 for the third and final race at Paul Ricard.
Nonetheless, Krütten put in an impressive performance in Race 1, progressing through the field with some smart moves. He was involved in thrilling wheel-to-wheel action, coming home a strong eighth. Furthermore, he made his second podium appearance in the series as runner-up in the Best Rookie stakes.
In the second race, the German teenager had to contend with a wet track. The difficult conditions caused him to spin at one point, but he skilfully regained control of his car and continued the race. However, a top placement was no longer in prospect. The BWT Mücke Motorsport driver finished the race in 29th position. And it was a similar outcome in the last race: Krütten fought his way up to eleventh place in the course of almost 30 minutes and was once again in line for a rookie podium. But a collision with the pursuing car caused another spin. 16th place was a respectable result under these conditions.
Krütten will be back in action again next weekend when he contests his third race weekend of the year (18th - 20th May). It will be in ADAC Formula 4 which shares the billing with the DTM at the Lausitzring.
You once again showed impressive pace and you well deserved your rookie podium in Race 1. Tell us about your first race at Le Castellet.
I knew from the three free practice sessions and from the tests on this track that I have what it takes to compete near the front. The fantastic charge through the field in the first race shows what I'm capable of. Had things gone a bit better in qualifying, I might have finished in the Top Three. All in all, I am very happy with the outcome of the first race. I had a lot of fun in the cockpit and was involved in some exciting battles for position. After such an exhausting race, the champagne tastes even better on the podium.
Qualifying is something of a talking point. You and your team-mates had difficulty in the two qualifying sessions. What was the reason for that?
The explanation is quite simple. The long distance of the track allows you to put in fewer laps over the two 15-minute sessions. With all 33 drivers out on track, the slowest are four to six seconds slower than the leaders at times. I had traffic during my fastest laps; in fact, I didn't have a single clear lap. That's obviously a pity, because with a better grid position, I would certainly have been able to compete with the front-runners. In terms of lap times in the first race, I was consistently among the Top Five, and I also set the fourth-fastest race lap.
In the second and third races, you had bad luck. What happened there?
The spin in the second race was my fault. I pushed hard and went wide in Turn 5. With it being so extremely slippery, the spin was unavoidable. An even more bitter pill to swallow was the scenario in the last race. I had been battling away well and overtook the driver who had been third in the rookie class up to then. On the very last lap, he misjudged a corner and clipped my rear wheel. I spun round and fell back to 16th place.
You're back in action next weekend at the Lausitzring...
I'll be arriving at the Lausitzring feeling upbeat. The strong results so far have obviously buoyed up my confidence and I know what I am capable of. If everything goes according to plan, then I should be able to defend my lead in the rookie championship, and if things go my way, I'm hopeful of the podium in the general classification too.