A driver with a famous surname, Mathias Lauda, will be be making his ADAC GT Masters debut this weekend (August 8th-10th) at the Slovakia Ring in Bratislava. The son of three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda is replacing an injured Heinz-Harald Frentzen at short notice. The 1997 Formula 1 world championship runner-up must undergo knee surgery and miss the fifth round of the Super Sports Car League.
33-year-old Lauda, who lives in Barcelona, is looking forward to his comeback with Mercedes in the Buchbinder racing gullwing fielded by HTP Motorsport, alongside young driver Luca Stolz; Lauda drove for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM from 2006-2009 and subsequently raced in a number of different categories, including various GT series. He is already familiar with HTP's SLS AMG GT3 from testing with Frentzen and Bernd Schneider at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet. Lauda will have the chance on Thursday to complete another day of tests at the Slovakia Ring.
"I'm really looking forward to this fresh opportunity, particularly as the race will be broadcast live on kabel eins in my native Austria," said Lauda, who was born in Salzburg. Moreover, the father of six-month-old baby boy Lennon is hoping that 'grandpa' Niki will stop by briefly: "It would be terrific if dad could look in on us," said Mathias Lauda, who is keenly anticipating the race. "The ADAC GT Masters is an impressive series, featuring a tremendous variety of marques and a high-calibre field of drivers. It also gives me a fresh opportunity in motor racing that I am eager to take, for sure!" concluded the late entrant to the sport, who didn't begin his career on four wheels in karting, as you might expect, but in Formula Nissan 2000 back in 2002.
After a very early start to be at a photo shoot in front of the State Opera, Team HTP's latest recruit was introduced to the media at Buchbinder's Rent-a-Car depot in Vienna. Axel Watter, the man responsible for acquiring Lauda's services, is pleased with the professional solution he has found to the problem posed by Frentzen's sudden inability to participate due to injury: "I think we've made a good move. There's practically no other driver in the ADAC GT Masters with as much experience in various racing classes or with as fine a pedigree," said HTP's team boss, adding, with reference to his injured driver Frentzen: "I hope that HHF gets well soon and makes a speedy recovery. Still, we don't want to take any risks. After all, a force of around 90kg bears down on the driver's leg under braking in these high-powered cars with some 600bhp."