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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Hubert Haupt

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with HRT team owner and driver Hubert Haupt…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

Experienced driver Hubert Haupt added team ownership to his resume this year, forming Haupt Racing Team as a new Mercedes-AMG customer squad off the back of Black Falcon’s withdrawal from top-level GT3 competition.

HRT’s debut season consisted of single-car Pro entries in the Endurance and Sprint divisions of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, plus a Silver Cup entry for the long-distance series that involved Haupt as one of the drivers.

It also committed to a multi-car program with Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos at its local track, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, where it achieved two victories in the NLS.

What led to you getting involved in motorsport team ownership?

“I had been racing with Black Falcon for six years. Already in 2019, I was discussing a lot with Sean Paul [Breslin, Black Falcon team principal] to build up my own team.

“Black Falcon is a great team and very professional on the performance side, but my wish was to build up the value of the company: the hospitality, good marketing and PR to bring it to a different stage. More professional all over.

“You therefore need some investments which you don’t get right away. Black Falcon could not afford to invest this money.

“It came suddenly in June 2020 when Black Falcon was not able to run the GT3 business any further, so I bought some assets and hired some of the staff.

“We tried to build it up and do it in the same professional way in terms of performance, and maybe even try to do it better.

“Of course it cost a lot of money, but it is for building up the look and feel of the company in order to be a good partner for AMG and also to look at further race series. Maybe there’s a chance with the DTM? Maybe there’s a chance with LMDh? You never know.”

How did you find your first year of team ownership?

“I have several companies and you can imagine we struggled from many problems due to the coronavirus, with my real estate business and my fitness company.

“The effort to build up a racing team was a big challenge. But it was the right point of time to do it. We really worked hard this year on all fronts.

“I’m happy I made this decision, even if it was a tough year. Almost every weekend we had races, and because we were always racing, we were not able to set up the company properly.

“Now we use the time over the winter to set up financial, controlling and inventory things which are very important. Every company needs a good base in order to perform.

“We are trying to build this up now and we have quite a lot of series in front of us for next year. We are starting at the Dubai 24 Hours in January. It will be a tough year but it’s my passion, so I like it.”

Were you pleased with the team’s performances this season?

“From the start it was fantastic because we won twice out of our first four races at the Nürburgring and finished second once. That was really good.

“What really was a bad race was the Nürburgring 24. We had the strongest car and the strongest lineup with three cars. We crashed out from a lead of two and a half minutes.

“Spa [24 Hours] was also a big race for us, but the Mercedes-AMG overall was not strong enough. In our opinion, the BoP was not correct because we were too slow and our competitors could go quicker in the race than in qualifying. It was really hard for us.

“But overall it was a good first season for the team. We were always quick and able to be in the top three. Having that in the first year of this strong field is quite good.”

Did you feel some pressure to emulate the success of Black Falcon, considering most of the team members were carried over from that successful project into HRT?

“For sure. When you come in with a new team you want to perform and win and beat them all at the first time. To be honest we over-pushed, for example at the Nürburgring.

“At the end there were some mistakes in the races that we did. You can never have a perfect season. We have to learn out of that, and we will try to do things better next year.”

In addition to owning the team, you also drove for it. How did the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season pan out for your Silver Cup crew?

“The competition is getting stronger every year. It’s tough, but that’s why we are racing there. I don’t want to race in a series where you can win without really concentrating.

“Sometimes we have 14 or 15 cars in Silver Cup, which is good. We are always able to win.

“At Imola, we were in the lead until we had engine damage, and if we won there I think we could have won the championship.

“Spa was the perfect race because we made no mistakes [to take the win]. It was a fantastic drive from all my teammates so it couldn’t have been better.”

You recently bought a plot of land at the Nürburgring to develop into HRT’s new headquarters. What will this new facility enable you to do with the business?

“When you have a better feel and a more professional way of setting up the team, you need to have a good race base. At the moment we are working in a garage. We want to go away from that.

“We are also looking at customers for the future. We can manage their cars to race at the Nürburgring. You need to have a good feeling when you go to a partner, so you need a modern building with a showroom and everything you need for a professional race team.

“At the moment we are building it much larger than we need it. But there is potential to make it bigger. We have 20,000 square meters of land but at the moment we are using about 6,000 square meters, so there is plenty of space.

“We are trying to rent out the other space which we are building for other teams.

“We already have quite a lot of interest from other teams that want to come to the Nürburgring because there’s no space to rent there.

“We are starting to build, I hope, in May. The goal is to be ready in April or May 2022 with the new, complete race base.”

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