Griessner: “My major goal is definitely the GT3 class.”

David, no doubt you enjoy looking back on last year: How was the 2019 season for you?

David Griessner: “Overall, the season was very varied, with highs and lows. But in the VLN things went really well right from the start and I had some good luck. I wasn’t at one of the races at the Nürburgring because there was a clash of dates with the GT4 European Series, and this race then ended up being cancelled due to snow. So, suddenly I was in with an unexpected chance of winning the VLN title, since I would have missed out on this race otherwise. Overall, we did a great job. The year was definitely the best one of my career.”

You won the overall standings in the BMW M235i Racing Cup in 2018, and won the BMW M240i Racing Cup and got the overall win in the VLN in 2019. In 2020 you are now taking a step forward in the BMW M4 GT4. How did this happen and what are the plans?

Griessner: “After I won the cup twice, the clear goal was to move up into a faster car. So the step up to the BMW M4 GT4 made sense, since it is the big brother of the BMW M240i Racing, as it were. I’m in my fourth year at Adrenalin Motorsport, we have worked really well together over these past years, and found an exciting solution for this year. I think it makes sense for everyone involved and that everyone will enjoy it.”

David Griessner

You get to have car number 1 on your new car at the Nordschleife. What does that mean to you?

Griessner: “It goes without saying that it is an honour. I’m delighted to have car number 1 on the BMW M4 GT4 now. It shows everyone what we achieved last year.”

How is the BMW M4 GT4 different from the BMW M240i Racing?

Griessner: “The BMW M240i Racing is closer to the production version. You notice that when you get in the car, because the interior is a standard dashboard. In the BMW M4 GT4 you see right away that only what is absolutely necessary is included and is set up for motorsport. This might be minor ergonomic details, such as the adjustability of the pedals. The seat is screwed tight, the seating position is far back for better weight distribution. The car has way more racing parts and is a thoroughbred racing car. As a driver you notice that immediately. I found it relatively easy to make the switch. But obviously the first few laps or so are a little unfamiliar. You have more power and different dimensions. The car is much wider, so it is entirely possible that you might end up driving over kerbs that you didn’t want to take on the initial laps because you’re not used to the width yet. Overall, it is a fantastic racing car.”” I’m delighted to have car number 1 on the BMW M4 GT4 now. ”David Griessner

Is the GT4 car another intermediate step? Where is your career heading?

Griessner: “My major goal is definitely the GT3 class. We had discussed it for this year, but it didn’t work out in the end. But I would definitely like to be contesting the major GT3 race series in the future.”

Awareness and acceptance of sim racing is increasing all the time, no doubt in part due to the coronavirus pandemic and the many cancelled races in traditional racing. Now, many races are being held virtually instead, for example, in the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series powered by VCO. What is your involvement in this?

Griessner: “I had never been involved in sim racing in the past. Then last year I bought myself a small basic set-up, but only to train for tracks that I hadn’t ever raced on. For example, Monza or Brands Hatch for our starts in the GT4 European Series. I also had a go on Walter Penker’s simulator, but only as practice for real racing, without getting involved in competitions or races. But if you want to race now in the current situation, sim racing is the only option. So, I have set up an area at home and am researching the whole thing a bit at the moment. I joined the Adrenalin eMotorSport team and, among other things am competing in the whole Digital NLS season. No doubt there will be a few other things as time goes on, but I would say that I am still in a discovery phase of sorts. You have to respect the sim racing sport, there are a lot of really good people involved. Even if you are a good racing driver in real-life, that doesn’t mean that you will be fast or consistent in sim racing right from the start. You need a lot of practice and a lot of experience.”

David Griessner

There are a few pro racing drivers, like the BMW works drivers Philipp Eng and Nick Catsburg, who have been involved in sim racing for some time now and do a good job of keeping up with the pros in that sphere. But even they have to battle with the top sim racing pros. What makes it so difficult for racing drivers to switch from the real racetrack to sim racing? And what might be missing for you that you are otherwise used to?

Griessner: “What I noticed right away is that there are no centrifugal forces. These centrifugal forces mean that you have a different perception of things on racetracks, such as the speed or the delay on the brake. Because you don’t have that in sim racing and everything is visual, unless you have a big full-motion simulator, which most people don’t, you are missing the input that you are used to. It’s difficult to compensate for that with just hand and eye coordination, and you need a lot of practice. The real pros in sim racing have been doing it for so long and are so specialised that they don’t need the extra input from the centrifugal forces.”

So, the interface between sim racing and racing on the track would be the BMW Motorsport simulator in Munich, for example, which the BMW works drivers use to prepare for the DTM and the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Do you dream of being allowed to complete a few laps in that simulator?

Griessner: “Definitely. I’m really interested in the field of simulations in general and would love to see how BMW Motorsport approach things.”