Audi driver Jamie Green spoke to Sam Smith on the eve of the new DTM season, which the Brit believes is his best chance yet of capturing an elusive first title.
“This year is a good opportunity for me to win the championship,” says Green with complete conviction.
Finishing 10th place in last year's championship certainly wasn't a true reflection of the pace Green demonstrated for much of the season, and the fact he has gone without a win in the category since Norisring in 2012 has done nothing to dampen his confidence.
That unshakable self-belief, combined with the stability he enjoys by racing the Team Rosberg-run Audi RS5 for a second consecutive year, gives Green a solid foundation on which to build an assault on the title that has eluded him in 10 seasons of racing in the DTM.
“I feel as fresh and as ready as I ever have to take my first title – I am totally focused on making this the year I fulfil my ambition. It is my second year with Team Rosberg and my third with Audi, so there are no changes for me and what I have at my disposal.
“We ended last season in a very good situation – I was the second fastest qualifier on average behind [runaway 2014 champion] Marco Wittman, so that gives us plenty of momentum to take into 2015.”
The 32-year-old also believes that his close relationship with his engineer Eric Baumgartner, who took Nico Rosberg to European Formula 3 glory in 2004 and Gary Paffett to DTM success in 2005, will be a major factor for a potential title surge in 2015.
“The chemistry we have is very good between us. We trust each other’s opinions fully, and we have a logical and progressive relationship in understanding the car and all the engineering dynamics.”
Green also acknowledges that his DTM experience will come to the fore in 2015 as the championship embraces a raft of rule changes that should prove to his advantage, including the reintroduction of two-race events and the axing of Hankook’s option tyre.
“Ever since I started in DTM back in 2005, I have only ever had 10 or 11 races per year. To have nearly double that amount with two events per weekend this year will play to my strengths, as I can take advantage of my experience in a racing environment more often.
“If you had one bad race in previous seasons, that was a sizeable chunk of a title attack gone. Now there are more chances to build a real and solid campaign.”
The rules regarding DRS usage have changed for 2015, too. This season, drivers will need to be within one second of the car ahead (down from two seconds last year) to activate the system, but they will be able to use it three times during the following lap.
“The important question is going to be how hard it is to get within the all-important one second, continues Green.
“Being just over a second away from the car in front, you lose so much performance because of the downforce levels, so it will be quite tough.
“I think it’s a better solution than the two second rule, because it was a little unfair for the leader that he could be reeled in after achieving a two second lead – because you work bloody hard in DTM to get even that small advantage.
“We have tested using the DRS three times a lap, and I can tell you it feels pretty busy in the cockpit. Throw in a few brake balance adjustments and some car-to-pit radio exchanges, and it keeps you occupied over a lap. I haven’t even thought about what it is going to be like at Norisring yet!”
The long DTM off-season ends when the field assembles for the opening races at Hockenheim on 2/3 May.