Austrian racer Lukas Dunner has joined MP Motorsport in FIA Formula 3 for the 2020 campaign, on the back of a third-place finish in the Euroformula Open Championship.
At just 18-years-old, Dunner has already enjoyed a stellar career, filled with highs and lows both on and off the track. Which parts of his career have shaped him most though? From dinner with Niki Lauda, to frontrunning battles, the Austrian talked us through the moments that made him.
Consistency is key
“I was in my last year of karting and I joined Danilo Rossi with DR. At the beginning of testing I was not sure if I had made the right decision, because Tony Kart were much faster than us. Throughout the season, the team and myself worked really hard and in the end, we became Champions.
“This was the first key point that I learned during my career really, because it taught me that it was not about having the best material and it taught me that if I was consistent, and kept working hard, then I could achieve anything.
“I also learned a bit about how to develop a kart, because I worked a lot with Danilo Rossi in the workshop. I learned that you need to always focus on the job, and you need to remember that if you work hard and if you work closely with the people around you, then you can achieve everything. It is not always about the kart or the car or the materials you have.”
Learning from your mistakes
“My first year of single seater racing was in Formula 4 with MP in the SMP NEZ F4 Championship. One of the tracks we drove at was the Ahvenisto Race Circuit, which is like a hill track, so it’s like a little Nürburgring.
“I was really fast in the first race and I went from ninth to fourth in the first lap, but I crashed around the fifth lap because I was too fast in the corner. Then, in the second race I was also P5 and I wanted to overtake my teammate Bent Viscaal. Again, I was too fast, and I crashed with him, so both races were DNFs.
“In this weekend, I learned that you should not go over your possibilities. I basically learned not to always go 100% if you are not able to do it, because it was only my second or third race weekend. I pushed too much, but my skills were not there yet. This was a key part of my development.”
Wise words from Niki Lauda
“It was in Sochi and I was invited to be at the race weekend in Russia with Niki Lauda. Niki Lauda invited me for a dinner, and it was my father, me and Niki. He talked to me and we had a long chat and there was one important thing, which he told me that stands out.
“He told me that it is important to get the maximum out of everything that you have. Even if the car is slow and even if you are not first, just try to maximise what is possible and give 100% from yourself.
“He said not to think about whether other drivers have a better car, just push and give the maximum possible. This was a really important lesson for me, because as a young driver, you always think that you have to win. He taught me to first look at myself, and if you know 100% that you cannot improve anymore, then look at the car. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get the maximum out of what you have.”
Focus on the positives
“Last year in Euroformula, with Teo Martin, there were two different engines, and the Mercedes engine, which we had, was basically much slower than the VW engine. What I learned there is that even if you don’t have the fastest car, you can still win races and you can still perform well.
“I learned to not focus on the bad things, because if you only focus on the bad things, then you will not improve. At the beginning of the season in the first race, two cars overtook me, and I had no chance on the straight with them. In this race, I only focused on the bad things and on the things that didn’t work. I was too busy thinking about how my engine was much slower and all of these other things and that made me slower than I could have been.
“Throughout year, I learned to always focus on the positive things. If you think about the good things and the things which you can affect, and the things you can do better, then you will always be faster. This was another key lesson for me which has helped me to develop as a driver.”
A key influence
“The last key moment that changed me personally and as a driver was working with Paolo last year in Euroformula. Paolo is an engineer who is well known in the motorsport scene. He previously worked with Mick Schumacher, when he was the Champion in European Formula 3.
“He also worked with Marcus Armstrong last year, who was second in FIA F3. I worked with him throughout the season with Teo Martin. He changed me personally and my driving style. He is the one who I think has affected me the most – he helped me massively.
“All of his advice, all of the talks which I had with him and the race weekends and testing sessions with him, made me a much better driver. I think that working with him last year made a big difference. It helped me massively and I am really thankful to have worked with him and I am really looking forward to working with him again in the future.”