6/27/2003 0 Comments
12. Niki Lauda
"Well...." Berger sighs.
DC: You two never seemed to get on too well, but I don't know if that's true or not?
Berger: "No that's not true. We, we, we... I would say we're friends, no question, but..."
Berger pauses, calculating his words. "There were certain times when we would not be on line with our impression, our opinion, but we've never been against each other and in the last few years we became quite close. If I meet Niki I like him, and I think it's the same for him, but it's not a friendship where we speak every day. But it's a friendship."
DC: Do you think you're closer now because you're not competing with each other?
"Well..." He pauses again.
"Today I understand very much what you don't understand when you come as a young driver - as a young driver you come into this business, if you are confident, with very little respect for others. Later on you find out how difficult it is to have success in this business. So when I was young I came in, and yes Niki Lauda won the Championship, but he wasn't really a spectacular driver - he wasn't a Gilles Villeneuve, a Montoya or a Senna, you know - and I was more attracted to these kinds of drivers.
"And I think I did not respect enough what he really achieved. Today I respect him a lot, because he won three times the World Championship, so today I really know what he did, and under the conditions he sometimes did it. And it's the same for me today when the young drivers come in.
"I think he felt a lack of respect for his performance in the beginning, and so that's why maybe he didn't play back in the same way as you guys would have expected from another Austrian colleague. But I think it was my fault, not his fault, and this is now all gone - I respect him a lot, and I think he knows where my qualities and my weaknesses are, and we are friends."
DC: He had a chance, albeit short, to be a team principal - would you like to have an opportunity at this type of job?
Berger: "Not at the moment, because at the moment I am not available, but I could be... when I reach Formula One again, I could be, yes."
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