“I’m just the son of a lorry driver”
How one Briton is gunning for DTM glory.
Ask yourself what you know about Jamie Green, and chances are it’s not a great deal. He’s arguably Britain’s lowest-profile top international motorsport star. And that suits him absolutely fine.
Now the veteran of 11 seasons in the DTM, Green last season came closer than he’s ever done to taking a crown with Audi that would have been his first title since he dominated Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica, among others, to win the 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series. Is he frustrated not to have won it? Possibly a little, but he knows the chance will come again, and he knows he’s doing a top job for his employer. And anyway, at the age of 33, for Green there are far more important things to life than being feted as a hero.
“I’m just a lad from Leicester whose dad was a lorry driver and who’s got a talent for driving,” he says matter-offactly. “I don’t think I was necessarily born destined to be a Formula 1 driver, but who is? I kind of value a bit of normality in my life. I’m well paid, I live in Monaco at the minute, I can provide for my kids, but I’m not famous.
“I’m very happy – I still think it’s miraculous that I came from stock car racing at Long Eaton [Green and his brother Nigel, who these days races BRISCA F1, began in Ministox] to living in Monaco and racing professionally. That journey is amazing in itself.”
Part of the reason for Green’s below-the-radar status in the UK is that the DTM hasn’t raced in his home country since 2013. To the German fans he’s pretty well known, as much part of the landscape as your Turkingtons and Sheddens are in Britain. But ask your average BTCC punter to name an Audi tin-top driver, and they’ll probably say ‘Ollie Jackson’ before they even think of Green.
He jests that the DTM’S low profile in the UK is “probably a good thing for me! I can go and watch my brother race his stock car and no one gives a toss really – I like that.”
But he does believe that more efforts could be made to engage the British public: “I just don’t think the promoters invest in the UK marketing very much – just the basic things like TV coverage. If it was on terrestrial TV then we would probably build up more of a fanbase and then people like myself and the other British drivers [Mercedes’ Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta, plus BMW’S Tom Blomqvist] become more of a personality.
“As a driver there’s little I can do other than try and win races and promote myself and promote DTM, but it’s like a chicken-and-egg scenario. The DTM people think, ‘Well, we don’t get much of a crowd in the UK so there’s no point going’, but the other way round is if we don’t have it on TV then no one knows about it, so why are they going to come and watch a race? I think you’ve got to speculate to accumulate.”
Part of the problem with the British DTM round was that from 2006-13 it was held on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. With such a short laptime and the noise of the cars drowning out the PA, once the pitstop cycles started no one had a clue what was going on. Green thinks that, instead, the series would be better served at its former UK home of Donington, which is where Green first got signed up by Mercedes in 2003 – he would drive for the Stuttgart manufacturer until the end of 2012 – during his British F3 days.
“We have this problem – in order to make the place feel like there’s an atmosphere, feel like we’ve got a crowd, you don’t want to be at Nurburgring GP track or Silverstone GP track,” says Green. “Brands was a good atmosphere but the track’s too small for the cars we’ve got, the downforce we’ve got. Donington would fit the cars well – it’s a good circuit, big enough for the cars.”
One aspect of the DTM that probably doesn’t help fire the enthusiasm of the Brits is that it does seem very orchestrated. Green acknowledges this, but says it’s a natural consequence of having three eight-car manufacturer teams. “It’s a bit like playing football,” he argues. “The whole dynamics are different to, say BTCC, where everyone’s racing against everyone. With eight guys you’re not all going to win, so there’s a point where you’re just trying to help your employer achieve its goal, which is to win the championship. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the guy that’s going to do it – it depends on the situation after the first few races of the year.
“So you kind of have to change your mentality a little bit and go, ‘Well, this is the job I’m here to do’. But yeah I can understand – it would be nice if it was a bit more racy, a bit more open.”
In the meantime, Green goes into this weekend’s Hockenheim opener hoping he can be Audi’s ‘chosen man’ in 2016. And longer term, he has an eye on another prize: “For me my overall career dream, when I retire, which I think is going to be in about 10 years’ time, if I could say I was the Formula 3 European champion, the DTM champion and I won the Le Mans 24 Hours, that would be a pretty nice way to bow out. Whether I get the chance to do the Le Mans thing, I don’t know, but if I hadn’t signed for Audi I definitely wouldn’t have got that chance. But for now, next on the list is DTM.”
Green made the switch to Audi ahead of the 2013 campaign
Green leads Lewis Hamilton in Formula 3 back during 2004
“I wasn’t born for F1” GREEN