QUICK CHAT: Uli Fritz
Uli, we've reached the midway point in the 2018 DTM. How would you sum up the first half of the season?
Ulrich Fritz: At the start of the campaign, we certainly weren't expecting to have established such a clear lead in all three championships at this stage. We knew that we had invested a lot of energy in preparing for our final season, so it is a well-deserved reward for the entire team. And to be honest, there is a degree of gratification. I remember the opening weekend at Hockenheim when accusations were levelled that we would only be coming along for the ride this year and that we wouldn't be playing a competitive role. You don't hear comments along those lines any more. But I would also caution against anyone thinking that we already have the championships sewn up. That is certainly not the case. BMW have almost always been on song throughout the season, and Audi came back into the reckoning at Zandvoort. If we ease up now, our lead will soon melt away.
Who would you say have been the biggest winners from the first half of the season?
Ulrich Fritz: All things considered, I would say the fans. All the changes that we made prior to the season have definitely had an effect. We've seen some great racing with spectacular wheel-to-wheel action. That's precisely what the spectators want from the DTM. In sporting terms, it's not hard to answer that question when you look at the championship table. Gary has had a sensational season so far. Going into the first weekend, we were wondering whether he would ever win another race with me as his boss. Some commentators were counting up the number of days he had gone since his last victory. And now he already has three wins this season after only ten races.
We've heard comments and rumours to the effect that all the other Mercedes drivers have been told to drive for Gary. What do you say to that?
Ulrich Fritz: That is nonsense. There are definitely no team orders to that effect. Everyone here is allowed to win. It would not be very smart to throw our weight behind one driver after ten races when five of our guys are in the Top Eight of the championship. Ultimately, the more irons you have in the fire, the better. In the past, we've seen what happens when a driver goes two or even three weekends without scoring any points. In those circumstances, it's good if you have multiple contenders for the title. Many of the comments are also simply part and parcel of the sport and are simply made to cause trouble or as a distraction. One shouldn't take them too seriously.