André Lotterer: from Margutti to Le Mans

Columns: Interview
We interviewed one of the toughest and purest drivers in professional motorsport, the German André Lotterer, a driver born in 1981 who currently races with Porsche in the WEC and with Andretti in Formula E. (mb/fm)

Lotterer has won three Le Mans (2011-2012-2014) and a World Endurance Championship in 2012. We also remember his Junior Karting World Championship won in front of a certain Alonso, in addition to his victory at the Margutti (100 Junior) in 1996, recalled in the interview.

We are in the paddock at Monza for the WEC and André Lotterer joins us in the hospitality of the Porsche team. André remembers Vroom well when he raced in karts and he didn't hesitate for a moment to grant the interview. Lotterer started racing here in Italy in karting “that counts” with Tino Ghidella, his real springboard for a career then as an official driver with Tony Kart.
You are a professional of Motorsport. Your path hasn’t been focused just on Formula 1 and that was maybe a good thing…wasn’t that?
Yes, I’m quite happy with my career. When you start you want go to Formula 1 and it was close to me to achieve this (test driver with Jaguar), but I was not in the right place in the right time so I didn’t have the opportunity in F1. It was quite difficult to find a career in motorsport not in F1, but my friend Enrico Zanarini (at that time manager of Eddie Irvine and then of Fisichella) asked me ‘why not to go to Japan?”. So I moved to Japan, making connections there and becoming a professional driver. I did the best I could with what I had. After abandoning the idea of Formula 1 arrived the successes in Le Mans, the greatest achievement in my career!
Why are young drivers so obsessed by F1 in your opinion?
Because is the top category with the biggest salary and with the best drivers. Formula 1 is a legend! It’s natural for a young boy/girl to dream about it.
How old were when you switched to cars?
16. My last season in kart was in 1997 and then in 1998 I started in cars in Formula BMW. In 18 I started Formula 3.
Have you been to a karting race recently?
No, the last race I saw was in Bahrain in 2013 for the Karting World Championship.
What’s your feedback of that race?
It was very nice to see it. Karting is very battle, with so many kids racing close. When you come back to a karting track you smell fuel like a parfum and many memories coming back. It’s also quite impressive to see what this kids are able to do. If you look at the time lap they are much faster.
Did you notice any big change if you think about the paddock you have been part of?
The structures are bigger, tents and everything…Before only top teams had a big tent, now everyone has a big structure.
What was your best kart race ever?
I think the Margutti in 1996. I was nobody and it was my first international race victory. I raced with Antonio Garcia, the world champion of the year before. He took the pole position and all the heats races. I started P18 in the pre-final and I arrived P3. In the final I started third and with a good start I came to the lead. He was behind me all the time, trying to pass me, but I pushed more, driving better than I could and I managed to go away, winning with five seconds (a lot of time)! That race changed my career, because after my victory (with Tino Ghidella) Tony Kart offered me a seat in the official team. I then won the World Championship with them, with Alonso in third position. Margutti changed my life. I am sad that the legendary Parma track disappeared, but it is good that Margutti trophy continues in Lonato.
Do you karting once in a while?
Maybe once or twice a year, but I racing so much that I don’t have time! I have to relax between the races!
Any regret in your career?
You must not have regrets in life. If you look back maybe you shouldn’t do this or that, but you don’t have to regret anything. I’m very satisfied with life. For example I finshed karting earlier cause I was too tall, but that has been a good choice!
What advise want you to give to new karting drivers of this generation?
Karting for me is a school of life. You are so young and your parents send you to race abroad. I learned so much from the people in karting world. The advice is to listen to the good teams and learn a lot and be committed to your sport. It is not just fun. You must have a professional approach from the beginning, wiht high ambition. Karting can be hobbying and fun for many kids, buti f you want to make it you have to be professional as soon as possible. You can dream about Formula 1, but it doesn’t exist only Formula 1 (think about me in WEC and Formula E). Find a career in motorsport is difficult and moving from kart to cars is a big change in a little time and everything occurs fast from category to category. You have to be also physically ready for these steps and opportunity. People test you for give you a chanche!


Created by: fmarangon2 - 11/07/23

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