Do you really want to print the Internet?
Save paper and protect the environment by using the bookmark or e-mail forwarding function instead.
When I was a little boy I fell in love with a Mini-Kart at a gas station. My dad, my brother, and I were driving past the gas station, but we pulled over just so we could look at the kart.
Of course it was a long journey from that moment to my career as a professional race car driver, but that’s my first memory of go-karts. And it’s a pleasant memory from my childhood, which I spent in the town of Kufstein in the Austrian state of Tyrol. When I was five years old, I tried out karting a few times, but I was still too young to get a racing license. I participated in my first race, the Tyrolean Cup, when I was six. I still remember that eight karts were competing, and that I finished in sixth place.
Nonetheless, I continued racing, and it was well worth it: When I was eight, I won the Tyrolean Cup. Later on, someone saw me driving and said, “That boy has to start racing in Germany.” From that point on, my hobby gradually became more and more professional, and thus required more and more time and money. That’s because an adult always had to travel with me, for I was not yet old enough to drive to the races myself. When I started to compete in international races, I realized that things were really getting serious.
People often ask me if I feel that I missed out on something during my childhood because of my passion for go-kart racing. Today I can say that my hobby was sometimes very brutal: I competed in 15 to 18 races per year, in addition to all the preparations. That meant having much less time for other things, especially school. Besides, I wasn’t an especially ambitious student. Fortunately, I had an extremely understanding teacher, so we were able to get me through school together. Motorsports are simply the love of my life, and they made up for lots of things I missed. Then too, I’ve always liked to do sports, including sports I do together with my friends. Of course motorsports are my Number One, but I’ve always liked to play baseball and soccer and to go skiing.
My dad died when I was 12 years old. That was tough for my family and me, and of course it also had an impact on my future in motor racing. Back then I took a break for one year and didn’t do any kart racing. That was a setback for me, but during this period other things were simply more important for me. It was a difficult time for my mother, my brother, and me. My bond with my family became even stronger — and maybe that’s the reason why I still live in Kufstein. This is where I’ve got my daily life, my family, and my friends. When I’m at home I can clear my mind and relax. I can have fun with my friends, and then I don’t care any more about the DTM for a short while.
But life has shown me several times that you can fall on your face. When that happens, you just have to get up and figure out how you can do things differently next time. When I was 15, I wasn’t sure whether I could continue my racing career after abandoning kart racing. I was devastated, because I really wanted to go on. And of course I wanted to be successful and have a professional career.
At that point, I made a plan for myself for the first time ever. I went to Asia, where I was entirely on my own and got to know a different culture. That gave me a tremendous boost. The same thing happened to me after my first year of competing in the DTM series. Of course I got my first pole position here, but by comparison to my earlier successes, when I was among the leaders, this was a big setback.
At that point too, I took a break during the winter and thought things over. Which aspects had been positive? Which ones had been negative? What did I want to do? That was helpful. After that point, my career really took off, because I invested a lot of time and effort in this sport. Today I know that the expression “You can’t get something from nothing” is more than just a saying. If you make your best effort, doors open up for you.
When I won my first race in 2016, the media hype increased too. I get a lot of attention from the Austrian media in particular. On the one hand, I think that’s cool and I enjoy it. On the other, I don’t consider it a big deal. Somehow I’ve remained a nature-loving boy from the Tyrol. That’s why I’m really looking forward to the race in Spielberg this weekend — after all, there’s no place like home.