When motorsport fans speak of touring car sport legends, it is not uncommon to hear 5-time DTM winner Bernd Schneider. We spoke to Mr. DTM in advance of the 24 2015-hour race.
The conversation takes place in the AMG Lounge, high above the boxes at the Nürburgring, with a magnificent view of the race track. The Mercedes Arena in the background. Just in time for the interview appointment, Bernd Schneider's eyes are looking for the monitors in the lounge, among us, on the traditional Nürburgring race track, the WTCC pilots have just started their introductory round to the first WTCC run on the Nordschleife. Bernd is a racer, Bernd remains a racer and so we postpone the first questions.
Even if Bernd himself will drive one of the most fascinating racing cars on this route over the 24-hour distance, he is behind the wheel of the Black Falcon SLS with start number 2, he cannot resist looking out over the edge of the motorsport field.
In conversation with Bernd Schneider
mab: Bernd, the usual questions right at the beginning: what is it like to be on the Nordschleife, what is different here than on the "normal" racetracks?
Bernd: You always have to have a lot of respect for the Nordschleife. But mentally, the preparation before every race is similar.
mab: Bernd, you've been doing motorsport for 35 years. Can you imagine hanging the helmet on the nail soon? What about the "fear" of this racetrack?
Bernd: You always have to have respect for this racetrack, but in general, of course, you have to ask yourself at some point whether you are simply too old for motorsport and whether you have enough fun with it.
mab: With your SLS you are now in second place in the grid for the race. The top 2 qualifying was driven by her teammate Adam Christodoulou, with an 30: 8 he burned an exclamation mark in the asphalt. Compare yourself with your younger team colleagues, so as a 18,341-time DTM champion you actually have to compare yourself more with others, right? Or do you think I would have done that 5 years ago?
Bernd: I would still do that today. And of course I compare myself to my colleagues. You always look at the time monitor and compare the sector times with the others!
But Adam was really fast, that was a very good lap! And I also have to say that I always enjoy learning from my younger colleagues. You just have to be open.
mab: And what do you learn from your young colleagues?
Bernd: You can learn something from everyone. For example, a new line on the racetrack - in the end, however, the motto is always: helmet on, thoughts aside and racing.
mab: There are 32 drivers competing on eight SLS GT3 this weekend, how do you feel? Do you constantly compare yourself with your colleagues?
Bernd: No, actually you can only compare yourself with your colleagues in your own car. With other teams you drive different tires, different settings, different strategies ...
mab: Other tires are a good keyword. The AMG SLS GT3 of Team Car Collection (car number 31) changed the tire brand yesterday, before the second qualifying session. You switched from Michelin to Dunlop there. How do you deal with such a change as a racing driver? Do you have to get used to it? Does that cause problems?
Bernd: I didn't know that yet, but it doesn't really matter what it says on the bike: if the tire is good, you feel comfortable as a driver. And that is what it is about. You have to build trust in the tires, then everything works.
mab: Feeling good, also a good keyword: How do you “feel good” with speed limits on a racetrack?
Bernd: It's not a problem. I was surprised at how well it works. And now we use a speed limiter, fourth gear, 200 km / h and that works very well.
mab: And the penalties for speeding offenses? Aren't they too hard?
Bernd: No. Then everyone will stick to it. And it was also clear that something had to happen after the accident!
mab: Where will I see you again on Sunday at 16pm?
Bernd: Well, hopefully in the box.
mab: Not on the podium? Do you not see yourself as favorites after P2 in qualifying?
Bernd: Oh nonsense. I don't think the grid is so important now. We have very different hot candidates here. Bentley, Aston Martin, BMW and of course the Audi, which were probably not yet at full speed in qualifying.