W&S Motorsport rising star Finn Zulauf gives an insight into his private life: "Family and community are my top priorities!"
Just north of the Rhine-Main metropolis of Frankfurt lies the small town of Königstein. Here in the Taunus mountains is Finn Zulauf's home. The 18-year-old junior driver from W&S Motorsport, who clinched overall victory at Hockenheim at the end of the 2022 ADAC GT4 Germany season, opened the doors of his family home and gave an insight into his life away from the race track. Of course, motorsport, which he has loved and lived since childhood, is also the focus here when Finn is not busy with homework.
Infected with the "motorsport virus" at an early age
Cars have been his passion ever since Finn can remember. His father Holger Zulauf has been driving various racing cars himself in his spare time for decades and supports Finn on his way to becoming a professional racing driver. Finn got into karting when he was about seven years old. "My dad infected me with the motorsport virus, or it was already in the genes," Finn recalls with a laugh. At first he drove rental karts, then quickly moved on to his own vehicle from around 2011. That's how he learned to handle the sports equipment on the track and recorded his first victories in major competitions. Together with his father, he even travelled as far as Brazil for kart races. As a teenager, he ventured into touring car racing in 2020 and competed in the BMW 318ti Cup.
In 2021, he entered the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 for the first time at W&S Motorsport and competed in the GTC Race. There, with convincing performances at the end of the season, he secured the series' sponsorship slot in the GT3 racer for the 2022 season, where he gained experience alongside professional drivers such as Markus Winkelhock and Stefan Mücke. With the team from Ofterdingen, Finn contested the 2022 season in the ADAC GT4 Germany, celebrating podiums and an overall victory and earning his permit for the Nordschleife in the Nürburgring Endurance Series.
"Everything that has four wheels and an engine has always fascinated me. Going fast and looking for a sporting challenge at the same time is simply the best thing," he says and continues: "To this day, I still go karting when time allows. Because that is pure racing and really fun! At the moment, however, this hobby is getting short shrift, because I am preparing for my A-levels, which I will write this year. And of course, 2023 entries in the ADAC GT4 Germany and NLS have priority, because I want to keep working on my driving career."
Fitness for the race track
Finn shows how professionally he is building his career in his spare time. For physical fitness, he goes to the gym several times a week or does weight training at home. To do this, he practices his agility and reaction times. Skiing and football are his other sports, which he actively pursues whenever he has time. However, he emphasises: "People always say that motorsport is dangerous. That is certainly true. But as much as I like playing football, I have to be careful. Last autumn, right after the last race, I was back on the pitch for the first time in a long time and immediately injured myself. I am still working on my rehabilitation today. Fortunately, I am one hundred percent fit again for the start of the season! Therefore, it was not possible to go to the ski slopes this winter. Instead, I trained a lot in my simulator."
Also fast in the virtual world
Simracing is enormously valuable to Finn and another part of his everyday driving. He explains, "To improve reaction times and increase attention, simracing helps me a lot. In addition, of course, I practise all the tracks I drive in real life in the simulator for hours beforehand to work out braking and turn-in points in advance. Of course, it differs again in the real car, but it helps me to prepare - especially for new tracks."
He also reveals that he prepared a lot in the simulator for the start at the Sachsenring, which was new territory for him last year. Many hours on the Nordschleife also helped him to achieve fast laps in the real race car right away. With a twinkle in his eye, he says: "Bathurst on the simulator is just great and I am very quick. One day I might be able to prove this experience in real life. Like at Le Mans or Daytona – it is a dream and maybe one of those dreams that will come true one day."
He continues: "In the last few years, I drove countless laps on the virtual Nordschleife, and when I was finally allowed to drive there in the real Porsche at the age of 18, I was able to benefit a lot from these practice laps.
The W&S Motorsport driver limits himself almost exclusively to the Assetto Corsa simulation, because in his opinion it is already very close to reality and well developed. Whenever possible, he looks up the setup data of the real race car and takes this as a basis. In his experience, it helps him a lot to find the right settings in the simulator: "Sim and real racing go hand in hand and I think the two cannot be separated any more. Preparations and modifications can be done without great expense and, above all, without material wear and the risk of accidents. If I overdo it in the simulator, I can start again. A careless mistake in the real race car quickly costs a lot of money and the team has more work unnecessarily!"
W&S Motorsport is like a family
Finn is a family person and travels to events with his father whenever possible. Even though he no longer lives directly in his parents' house, he is there almost every day. He also had this family feeling immediately from the first contact with W&S Motorsport. He says: "From the very first moment, I felt indescribably comfortable and very well welcomed by the team. As they say, the chemistry was right from the start. The entire crew of Patrick Wagner and Daniel Schellhaas works with so much passion and joy and the atmosphere is always perfect. We work with a high level of concentration on a professional level and yet laugh an incredible amount. The team spirit, also among the drivers, is unique and the team is like a big family. There is no competition between the drivers, but we exchange ideas, always benefit from each other and push each other. This atmosphere, along with my upcoming A-levels, is also my main reason for turning down attractive GT3 offers from other racing teams for 2023. I know what I have in W&S Motorsport and I can concentrate on my school-leaving certificate despite the deadlines. That was important to me and my parents."
Currently, the 18-year-old is in the midst of the stress of studying for his A-levels and preparing for the upcoming racing season. He will contest his second season in the AVIA racing Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport in the ADAC GT4 Germany with AVIA W&S Motorsport in order to continue fighting for podiums and victories. His personal goal in the strongly contested series is to win the Junior Trophy and score as many points as possible for the team in the team classification. He will also compete in the Nürburgring Endurance Series in the AVIA racing Porsche Cayman GT4 CS in Cup3 of the Porsche Endurance Trophy Nürburgring.
For the future he wishes: "A contract as a development or even works driver would of course be the fulfilment of a dream, I am still working on that. After graduating from high school, I will decide what I will do. It is quite possible that I will focus on racing for the rest of the year. Now I have to graduate with good grades first, which is important to me. One of my big dreams, once I have my Nordschleife permit, is to compete in the legendary 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. Let's see when I get the chance to do that."
He concludes by stressing, " I am already counting the days until I can get back in the Porsche Cayman GT4 and race. As I mentioned before, the atmosphere in the team is unique, so I am really looking forward to seeing everyone again. I quickly realised after the end of the season how much I miss the squad. Before Christmas I was in Ofterdingen, which felt like a family visit. What did I do there? W&S Motorsport will reveal that in the next few weeks!"
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