Hans-Joachim Stuck

RJ: Your post Formula 1 career has been hugely successful.

HJS: (laughing, with broad grin) No.. No it hasn't. (winks)

RJ: Well, better than some surely!

HJS: Yeah, I'll grant you that!

RJ: When you left F1, did you – well, it was a lot different back then.

HJS: Yes.. yes

RJ: You could do different things and drive in F1, whilst now it's just F1 only – testing and driving and that's it. When you left Formula 1, did you have any idea of where you wanted your career to go?

HJS: Yes, in my last season with ATS, I scored only 2 points all season and they said 'that's it, young man' and I thought, 'well, this cannot be', because if you're trying the most from your perspective and you still only score 2 points, at least, the very least you expect is a 'Thank you' for trying, because I gave it the best I could and I didn't get that. That disappointed me and I decided to concentrate on building a career with touring cars, with BMW, and I knew now I could rely on the team, because the previous year, everything was uncertain and I had a family to take care of and now a mum to take care of (Stucks' father, Hans, the great pre-war racer, had died in 1978).. I needed a basic contract with somebody, and originally I planned to do touring cars with them for a couple of years, because back then it was a much lower.. less regarded.. series in Germany, but when I put my pedal to the metal, I found my spirits moved up again, and the rest of my career proved that you should never give up, because if you do it, with all the passion in your heart, then you just love going racing, and that's how I still feel.

RJ: I mean, you have had such a varied career.. Le Mans, Formula 2, Macau, Sebring, sportscars, touring cars etc. What was the secret to your success in adapting so well to the different categories – did you find it quite easy?

HJS: Yes, mainly. I spent years in touring cars and they made me drive a BMW car here in England with right-hand drive, and then everything after that was with left-hand drive! But the less you think about it, the better I do it! At the time I was driving in Formula 1 and the sportscar series and then in touring cars, my idol was Ronnie Peterson. In my eyes he was a phenomen. He was fast and everything.. he got in a car, he drove a couple of laps, or 10-15, he drove the car to the utmost andthen tried to change the car, and I learnt from that. I try to get the most out of the car and then look at the set-up of the car, and this proved to be very good! For me, it never mattered what I was in. For me, it was motor racing and if you do it well, you can be a winner, I mean I sat in the seat, I gripped the steering wheel and tested the brakes and out came good lap times and that made me very happy! (chuckles)

RJ: Is there anything you haven't done that you would've liked to have done?

HJS: (instantly) I would have liked to have done Paris-Dakar. Maybe in a truck or something.. not one of these motorcyclists.. it's very heavy to learn how to adapt to something like that. But the guys I admire the most are those who are doing that kind of motorcycling.. I really admire them because I ride a motorcycle myself, and I'm pretty decent, but to do that rallying in that humidity.. it's incredible. I mean.. the control.. everything.. I really do admire them.

RJ: Going back to the present day, what are your general future plans in the sport? How involved are you in the sport?

HJS: Well, I still am.. I work with the BMW touring car team, a little less this year, because there's many championship dates which clash with my involvement with the BMW Sauber team.. I cannot make every race, so this year, maybe a maximum of ten races, including some GP Masters, which I feel, a lot more relaxed with.. the more you're behind the wheel, the more you're familiar with it. I still do some testing for BMW when they want me to, but only the GT car because we don't have a DTM car any more, so I'm missing the racing a little bit, but, I'm happy, because I'm 55 and this other job I have is great, because I love to do Formula 1 .. and really.. I'm quite happy.. so it's either a case of I take it or I leave it.. and I take it!

RJ: Do you think your father would've been interested in something like this (GPM), if this kind of idea had been around in his day?

HJS: Yes, yes, oh sure. Yes, this is something that most drivers would like. Maybe not some of those racing this year (in F1), but the other ones definitely. Actually, I.. I know a couple of guys, that I very much admire nowadays and one of those is Juan Pablo Montoya. Coming from CART, different kind of technique, and then taking the chance, 'cos he was really fantastic in Formula 1 and now taking the chance to go to NASCAR.. there's really quite a difference and I swear to God, he's going to make it some day. Give him a year, and then he'll prove, this guy can really race. You have to be an all-round man whatever part of the sport you're in, whether you've driven in sports cars, Formula 1 cars, touring cars.. whatever, and he's got that. A good racing driver should be fast..

RJ: Do you think Montoya going straight into the NASCAR Nextel series, as opposed to the Busch Series, is the right move then?

HJS: Yes, probably. I mean it will be hard racing, and certainly more so in the first couple of races-

(Stuck's mobile phone rings so he answers it and has a brief conversation with his son, Johannes..).. He's won.. that's my son, he's won both races today (Johannes Stuck won both races at the Mini Challenge at the Nurburgring that weekend) Where were we? Oh Montoya.. Well, I think, for sure, he'll find it difficult in the beginning, but he's the guy.. in America.. that can do it. He has a good car, he has the guts to do it, he doesn't worry.. and the good thing is he's a great guy, it's his kind of people, it's his kind of racing, NASCAR, because he's the kind of guy that will love the crowd support, because many, many of those guys who live in South America and the States, they will come down to support him and.. and I would have to say you have to give him a year, then he'll be a guy at the front. Good machinery, and he knows there are many rules, but if he's smart enough, and he is, that'll give him a little bit of an advantage, maybe, and I would wonder.. really.. if it didn't work, not because I like him, but because he has the balls to do it.

RJ: What about Villeneuve, he's been linked -

HJS: No, no. In talking about Jacques Villeneuve, I doubt he will do NASCAR, I really doubt it. I don't think Jacques is the kind of guy that really' is made for NASCAR. The tracks.. he's a very smooth kind of driver and I think Jacques.. he wouldn't show his best there. So, I think this rumour is not going to work. I believe Jacques will have a little bit of time out, become a father, have babies, spend time with the mother of the babies and then maybe.. well, we'll see. I don't know. But I think this is what he is going to do, he's a very unfortunate guy, with what happened with BAR.. he went.. he got offered the money and he did his best but he didn't and still doesn't really get the kind of respect he deserves.

Interview conducted by Richard Jenkins on the 12th August 2006 at the GPM event at Silverstone. Many thanks to Hans for his time and incredibly indearing friendliness and also for the e-mail correspondance after the interview for his website.