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Interview with Filipe Albuquerque

Without a doubt he is one of the most talented racing drivers in the world. After a succesful career in formula cars, he made the step to the GT's and touring cars. Since 2011 he is an official driver of Audi and racing in DTM. Of course, this only could be Portugese star Filipe Albuquerque. RacingInside.com talked to Filipe Albuquerque about his career, 2012 season and his future.

Filipe AlbuquerqueHello Filipe, some of our visitors will be familiar with the name of Filipe Albuquerque. Unfortunately, some of them may have never heard of you. Could you give a brief introduction about yourself?
Well, I’m a Portuguese driver that started driving karts at 7 year old, driving for fun. Then I started to go into competition to challenge myself. I won the cup of Portugal in Juniors, finished 2nd in Open Italian and 2nd as well in European Championship ICA in 2002.

In 2005 I became Red Bull Junior Driver; I finished that first year in single seaters in 5th and best rookie in Formula Renault 2.0, 3rd and best rookie in German Renault 2.0 and 6th and best rookie in Spanish Formula 3.

In 2006 I won the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and North European Championship. In 2007 I finished 4th and best rookie in World Series by Renault in Formula Renault 3.5. In 2009 I did A1GP representing Portugal as I finished 3rd. In 2011 I joined Audi as an official driver in DTM.

Some race drivers are getting involved in racing through friends or family. How did you get involved in racing? Did your parents support you from the early beginning?
It all started when my father took my brother and me to a go kart track. From then on I started to go karting every weekend with my father and brother. One day I tried a trophy championship and I finished 3rd in my first race.

Did you started your career, like many other drivers, in karting or have you been into the cars straight away? Do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a race driver?
Yes, I started my career in karting. If you see, most of the successful racing drivers started their career in karting, because you start at a very young age to learn important things.

You have raced in different formula cars throughout the years. You have driven in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 and A1GP. What are the main differences between those formula cars? Which car, do you think, is the most exciting to drive?
Formula Renault 2.0 is good for learning the basics… it’s like the 2nd grade in school. World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 is a step up, more horsepower, more aerodynamics, more technical, more weight… it is everything more, so it’s like 3rd grade. A1GP is very similar, although back in 2007 and 2009 A1GP had more power so it was more fun to drive A1GP.

Eventually, you have made the switch to racing in touring cars and GT’s. What is the main difference between racing those cars and racing formula cars?
Not having wind on your helmet… kidding, but true. The biggest is the weight, and aerodynamics! The weight transfer in a touring car is much more than a formula car. There is a lot more weight transfer between corners. I’m quite lucky to drive a DTM-car because it is much closer to a formula car then a GT. I could say that DTM is the step between formula cars and GT’s.

During the 2012 season, you have driven in DTM with Audi. In earlier seasons you have also driven Audi’s in several championships. What is your relation to Audi and will you be racing in DTM during 2013 too?
When I jumped out of formula cars, I got the opportunity to drive in Portimão with an Audi RS4 from Audi Italy in Superstars, and racing was good, I finished both times in P2. After that Audi Italy invited me to drive with the brand new Audi R8 LMS in Italian GT’s with the legendary Dindo Capello and we won! It was the first win of an Audi R8 in Italy. After that I did a test with a DTM for Audi. Everything went well, I was fast so they took me in consideration. So in 2011 it was possible to join. 2013, I think and I hope to continue in DTM with Audi.

Albuquerque racing in DTM

If you take a look ahead, what do you think that the future will bring to you? Being successful in DTM will possibly be one of your targets, but do you have any other targets that have to be accomplished?
Now, I’m in DTM for 2 years. I already understand very well that you need to work very hard and have experience if you want to be successful. I want to be successful, so for the moment I want to stay in DTM and push for my first win, and then I will see. One day I would love to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and win if possible of course, I would love to win the 24 Hours of Spa, which in my first appearance I had a chance if there was not a technical problem…

Every race driver has good and bad moments during his career. What is your best moment in racing, until now? What is the moment you would like to forget as soon as possible?
Winning the two titles in one year, the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and North European Championship is one of the best moments. Winning the Race of Champions against Loeb was really a good feeling too. The podium in my first DTM season in Valencia was very nice too.

The bad moments… well I prefer to keep that for myself, so people won’t remember it. I want them to remember my good things! Haha!

The life of a race driver is tough physically and mentally. Do you have a special training programme to stay fit and to gain strength?
I had a couple of physical trainers… When I was in the Red Bull Junior Program we had our own training and trainers. Now, only sometimes I workout with a trainer, although I prefer to train alone, like that is also mentally… it’s you alone against you… harder, harder, harder…

If you could change lives for a day with another race driver, who would it be?
At the moment I would change with Tom Kristensen, I would like to drive and race the Audi R18 and to have his experience and skills.

From the outside, being a race driver looks like a real dream. But there are also negative points, of course. If you could take people a look at the ‘inside’ of racing, what do you think is the most negative point of being a race driver?
That is easy. I would take away the politics and interests. I would put every driver in the same level of interest of money. The only interest should be, and only be, driving skills and professionalism.

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
First to continuing your study, then racing in high level in karting and then work hard for your dream and be ready, because you never know when your opportunity might come.