A breath-taking finale, a party marathon after the title, recipes for success, highs and lows of the season: In the big champions interview, German GT Champions Ricardo Feller (21/CH) and Christopher Mies (32/Düsseldorf, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) look back at last season, describe the dramatic title-decider at the Nürburgring, and look ahead to 2022.
How does it feel to be German GT Champions?
Ricardo Feller: “It is a very cool feeling. I have dreamed of this for a long time. It feels absolutely mega that it is now reality.”
Christopher Mies: “I know this from 2016, so it just feels like it always does. No, joking aside, it is a great feeling – even if I have had time to get a little more used to it. I think we have celebrated in style in recent weeks, and thoroughly enjoyed our success.”
What has surprised you most since winning the title?
Mies: “My girlfriend organised a surprise party on the Monday evening. I knew absolutely nothing about it. I was delighted to see so many friends and acquaintances there, as most of them had to go to work the next day.”
Feller: “When I returned home from the Nürburgring, my neighbours had hung a homemade banner on the house wall. On it was written ‘Welcome, German GT Champion!’ Everyone had written personal messages and greetings on it, which was really touching.”
When you look back on the season now, a few weeks down the line, what was the key to your success?
Mies: “We prepared very well and laid the foundation ahead of the season. During the season, our consistency was definitely key. Only once did we fail to pick up points. That aside, we actually always did relatively well. I cannot remember any really bad races. We always scored valuable points. The three pole positions from Ricky were also important. In the end, it was these those nine points that made the difference.”
What was the highlight of the season for you?
Mies: “In actual fact, the whole season was a highlight for us. The toughest race was definitely the Saturday race at the Lausitzring. We had a comfortable lead until the red flag. At the restart, there was an awful lot of binding agent on the track, as a result of the oil spill. That was very tricky, as visibility was not good and you did not know exactly where to brake. Everyone was following me, as the leader. That was not easy, as I did not want to throw away all the good work that Ricky and the team had done.”
Feller: “My personal highlight was the Saturday race in Zandvoort, with the pole and our first win of the season. It is great to win there, as I simply love the circuit. However, as Chris said: there was an incredible number of great moments throughout the season.”
Was there a low point then?
Mies: “If there was one at all, then the Sunday race in Zandvoort, when we were involved in a crash through no fault of our own, which resulted in us failing to pick up points for the only time last year. We were obviously not happy about that, but it was not actually a particularly dramatic setback, as we had secured pole and the race win to score maximum points on the Saturday, and it did not go well for our biggest rivals – the SSR Porsche and the Toksport Mercedes – either.”
When did you first start to believe that you might actually win the title?
Feller: “For me, it kind of started after the pole position at the Lausitzring, when I noticed that we were right in the thick of the title race. However, you are always a little uncertain, as a lot can still happen. After the pole at the Nürburgring, I thought: Yes, this is on.”
Mies: “In my case, it was not until after the Saturday race at the Nürburgring. I am generally a rather pessimistic guy and expected the Porsche and Mercedes-AMG to be stronger than us at the Nürburgring. As such, I was pretty surprised when we won on the Saturday. At that point, we had a 17-point lead. It was clear that we did not have to go all out to finish at the front, but that eighth place would actually be sufficient. However, Sunday showed just how quickly things can change.”
How was the deciding Sunday for you? It was by no means an ordinary start to the day, with fog in the morning resulting in qualifying being delayed by two hours. Did that affect you at all?
Mies: “The delay and the conditions did not bother me. To be honest, I was actually hoping for rain or mixed conditions, as I felt that would give us a better chance. I have driven so many laps of the Nürburgring in such diverse conditions that I know the different lines, so I was optimistic. In the race, we unfortunately came out behind the Corvette after the pit stop, and lost a lot of time as a result. Otherwise, we would have finished somewhere between third and fifth. Instead, we briefly dropped out of the top ten. When Ricky was attacked by Porsche driver Sven Müller, I thought the title was gone. Fortunately, everything worked out well for us.”
Feller: “That was the most intense race I have ever driven in. It was extremely emotional. I was under a lot of pressure, as I did not want to do anything wrong and throw away our title chances. I had never been in a situation like that before. It is much easier to start from pole position. In hindsight, I have to say that I should have tried to overtake the Corvette after the stop. However, I did not want to take any risks, which meant I ended up in the middle of a group of cars who were scrapping for position and not afraid to make contact. When I made it past, I was relieved. I had imagined what it might feel like to win the title and whether I would do some donuts or something similar. I did not have the energy for any of that. I just sat in the car and wanted to enjoy that wonderful moment.“
How would you gauge the title win?
Mies: “I enjoyed this year’s success far more consciously than in 2016. The opposition is much tougher and the standard far higher. It is very difficult to win the title. As such, I really enjoyed the title and celebrated in style.”
Feller: “It is really special for me. The last time I won a title was on the kart track. The championship was very important and has obviously opened doors for me with regard to my motorsport future.”
Time for a little adulation: What makes your team-mate so good?
Mies: “Ricky is always relaxed and very mellow for his age, although he is only 21 years old. We drove together for the first time in the USA in 2019, and you could see then just how fast he is. However, he was perhaps still a little too impetuous in some situations – which is normal when you are young. He has developed tremendously since then and has definitely benefitted from having done a lot of driving – including on the international scene.”
Feller: “Christopher has a wealth of experience, which you notice immediately as his team-mate. For example, you could see that at the Sunday race at the Lausitzring. He was faced with a tough task, but mastered it superbly. I always have every faith in him and know that he will always bring the car home in one piece. We work very well together, both on and off the track.”
One important factor in the title win was certainly Montaplast by Land-Motorsport. What is so special about Christian and Wolfgang Land’s team?
Mies: “I have been driving for Land since 2016, when the team first entered the ADAC GT Masters. The first season was sensational, with three championships. And the following years have almost always been good ones. Land is certainly one of the most successful teams of the past five years. One of their strengths is the superb way they prepare the cars. They are always in excellent condition. The team is also well-oiled. Many of the guys working on our car were also involved back in 2016.”
Feller: “I like the fact that it is a real team, and that everyone sticks together. The team has also remained down to earth. There is no oversized hospitality, the money is always invested in the car – which, to be honest, I prefer. For example, we did not have a single technical retirement this year. I like Land-Motorsport, we have been a good match from the outset.”
Finally, let’s look into the future: What next in 2022? Will you defend the title – maybe even as team-mates again?
Mies: “Personally, I hope we can continue as we are. However, it obviously all comes down to contracts. Realistically, it will be February before we know how things will proceed next year.”
Feller: “It would definitely be nice to share a car again. However, that is dependent on many factors. We’ll have to see how things develop.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters