Maxime Martin says that the opportunity to move from BMW to Aston Martin came at the perfect time in his career. After five years racing for BMW in DTM, GTLM and in various GT3 races, he’s joining AMR for its WEC ‘Super Season’ GTE Pro attack with the new 2018 Vantage GTE, and is confident that he’s made the right move.
Martin scored wins and podiums during his four-year DTM stint, which came to a close this season, but has been looking for a different challenge, a chance to go racing on an international stage regularly once again.
“It’s a really big and good step,” he told DSC. “It’s come at the right time too, with the new Vantage GTE coming. They’ve put a lot of effort in to make it as competitive as it can be. It’s a great moment to join.
“It’s never an easy move to change manufacturers. It was hard for me to leave BMW because I’ve been there for five years and done a lot of things with them. But I’m really convinced it’s the right move.”
After five years of racing with one factory though, there will still be an adjustment period. Martin admits that it will be strange at first when he turns up at Spa in May for the opening round of the 2018/19 WEC season, and is tasked with racing against BMW.
“It will be hard (to compete against BMW), especially at the beginning, because I know everyone, the engineers, the drivers, so when I see them at the track for the first time without being with them it will be hard. But we’re all professional, my new team is AMR, and I’m fully focused on performing with them.”
I’ve been speaking with Aston Martin for a long time now, about what they’ve planned going forward
Martin explained to DSC that there were two key factors in the switch. Had he stayed with BMW, Martin says he wouldn’t have had the option to join the brand’s GTE programme with the M8 full time, and instead, he would have had to continue in DTM. And with the future of DTM on shaky ground since Mercedes announced its withdrawal for the end of the 2018 season, an offer to race in the WEC with AMR seemed more appetising.
“I think it’s part of a lot of different things. I think the WEC, especially in GTE with more and more brands, is rising to the top of motorsport. I’ve been speaking with Aston Martin for a long time now, about what they’ve planned going forward. And also there’s the DTM factor, because with Mercedes leaving at the end of 2018 it’s quite a difficult moment for the series.
“I’ve done four years in that, I’ve won races, been on the podium and I want a new challenge and with DTM having an uncertain future, this was a good option for me.
“If I had stayed at BMW, I would have done some races in their GTE, but my main programme would have been DTM, so I wanted to change a bit, I wanted to do something else and have a fresh start.
If I had stayed at BMW, I would have done some races in their GTE, but my main programme would have been DTM
“The ‘Super Season’ in the WEC is a transition, but I think it’ll be a success,” he continued. “The idea to finish the season at Le Mans is a great idea too. It’s something that they had to do because all the focus on the WEC is Le Mans, and when you can finish the season with Le Mans, it keeps everybody focused at all times until the end of the season, which is what they want.
“It’s strange because it’s only five races in 2018 and three in 2019… It’s certainly not what we’re used to as drivers, but in the end I think it’ll work out.
“And to be honest, being back in a world championship was important for me because DTM is a bit more European now than it has been. It’s still quite German, and I wanted to get back into international racing. WEC is definitely a great platform, especially in GTE. It’s not the top class but it’s where the manufacturers are looking, so it’s the right place to be.”
Oddly, heading into 2018, Martin has driven the BMW M8 GTE (in testing), and not the new Vantage GTE, yet he’s still confident from the feedback he’s been given by those within the programme that the car will be successful in its first season.
“I haven’t driven the new Aston yet, and until very recently I’d only seen pictures! But I think my first test will be in January with the team.
“I don’t know who I’ll be driving with yet either, but that’s ok. I know Alex Lynn because he was with BMW at the Nurburgring 24 Hours, and the other driver,s I know them from racing against them. Some of them are the best GT drivers in the world, when you look at what they did with the older car. It’s a really good line-up.”
“It’s not going to be an easy season, but when the car is fully developed, I think we’ll have a really competitive season. From what I hear, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to win races.”
Featured image and AMR testing images courtesy of AMR/Drew Gibson