Auer has made "huge step" since Super Formula stint
Lucas Auer has made a “huge step” after a year away in Super Formula and should find it “easy” to adjust to the demands of the DTM this season, according to ITR chairman Gerhard Berger.
Auer will return to the DTM this year after striking a deal with BMW, the Austrian driver becoming one of the Bavarian brand’s two new factory signings alongside ex-Audi driver Jonathan Aberdein.
The 25-year-old previously raced in the DTM with Mercedes from 2015-18, but the German manufacturer's exit from the series prompted him to switch to Super Formula with backing from Red Bull.
Despite no single-seater running in five years outside of a preparatory TRS campaign in New Zealand, and driving for the unfancied B-Max team in its first year in an alliance with Motopark, Auer exceeded all expectations to score a podium in only his third race appearance, and finished the year ninth in the drivers’ standings.
Although Auer chose not to remain in Japan for a second season, Berger believes his nephew will be a stronger driver on his DTM comeback.
“The year in Japan has brought him a huge step forward in his personal development,” Berger told Motorsport.com. "He was away from home for the first time, learned to stand on his own two feet and to find his way around in a different culture.
“He has also developed his driving skills because the Super Formula cars are the fastest formula cars after Formula 1."
Berger believes Auer should be aiming for the drivers’ title, having already scored four wins and a best championship finish of sixth during his previous four-year stint in the DTM.
Only two BMW drivers have won the DTM crown in the last decade, with now-IMSA driver Bruno Spengler claiming the 2012 title and Marco Wittmann triumphing in 2014 and '16.
"It was originally his goal to collect the necessary superlicense points for Formula 1 in Japan," said Berger. "It didn't work out, but he accepted that. I think now his goal is to get to the very top in the DTM and be a championship contender."
Asked if he will face a learning period adapting back to the DTM cars, Berger said: "That is still difficult to assess.
“It may be that at the beginning he will have to get used to the DTM car again. But maybe it will be easy for him to switch because he is now used to faster cars and the new tyre experience will also help him."
Lucas Auer, B-Max Racing Team
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
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