Rookie victory number three in ADAC Formula 4: Niklas Krütten on Lausitzring podium
A rolling stone gathers no moss. True to the old proverb, Niklas Krütten was back in action last weekend, just one week after his last outing in the equivalent Italian Formula 4 series. The third fixture of the 2018 ADAC Formula 4 was sharing the billing with the DTM at the Lausitzring. Krütten's priorities for the weekend were to stay in contention in the rookie classification and to score championship points for himself and his team, BWT Mücke Motorsport.
By contrast with most of his opponents, who had already tested several times at the Lausitzring, Krütten had no experience of driving there. Nonetheless, he coped well with the new challenge and was among the Top Ten in the two free practice sessions. In qualifying, however, he and his BWT Mücke Motorsport team-mates Ido Cohen and Leon Köhler fell some way short. Krütten at least came out ahead in the internal contest, qualifying in P12 and P14, but it was not the most propitious starting position for the first two races.
In the first of the three races, the 15-year-old German together with several other drivers was forced to retire through no fault of his own. A damaged car had spilled oil on the track, which Krütten had no chance to dodge, and he consequently skidded off the track. In the second race, he fought back after a difficult opening lap to finish in 12th place. In the third and final race on Sunday, Krütten again showed great determination, staging a magnificent charge through the field from 12th on the grid to finish a creditable eighth - which was also enough for victory in the rookie classification.
Krütten's otherwise very busy race calendar shows a break for the upcoming weekend. But only one week later, he will be competing in the Italian Formula 4 series on the Formula 1 track in the Royal Park of Monza (1st - 3rd June).
Four questions for Niklas Krütten Niklas, you had a difficult start to the weekend at the Lausitzring but then a happy ending...I am very relieved that it ended with the rookie victory. It was indeed a difficult weekend for us. My team-mates and I did not have the speed to compete with the front-runners from Friday through to Sunday. We occasionally had the pace to get into the Top Ten. In the circumstances, P8 in the last race was great.
How did the races go from your perspective?In the first race, I had a great start and soon got into my rhythm. But like some of the other drivers, I unfortunately hit a patch of oil. Keeping control of the car was simply impossible, and I skidded off the track. I didn't get off to the best of starts in the second race and lost a couple of places in the opening stages, but I pulled off some cool overtaking manoeuvres and made some progress through the field. I had an absolute top start in the third race. I was pushing but at the same time driving in a controlled way to score as many points as possible in both the general and rookie classifications. That worked out well with eighth place. If I'd had a couple more laps at the end, I might even have finished sixth.
After a total of seven race weekends in single-seater racing, what are your impressions so far?
It's such incredible fun to drive a formula racing car. The standard of competition in the German and Italian Formula 4 is very high, and it's great to be up against the strongest Formula 4 drivers weekend after weekend. I'm still on a very steep learning curve. What I'll take away from this occasion is that you always have to concentrate fully and never give up, even if you don't have the speed for a top finish. That was the only way we were able to come away with vital championship points. We need to raise our performance in qualifying. We are still not effective enough in this area; we need to push harder and get our fast laps in earlier.
Your next race weekend is on the legendary F1 circuit in Monza...
The track is just incredible. I'm really looking forward to it - the atmosphere at Monza should be fantastic. The layout with its long, fast straights and the two chicanes is unique. The entire circuit breathes history, and I just can't wait to race there.