Auer will return to the DTM this year after striking a deal with BMW, the Austrian driver becoming one of the Bavarian brand’s two new factory signings alongside ex-Audi driver Jonathan Aberdein.
The 25-year-old previously raced in the DTM with Mercedes from 2015-18, but the German manufacturer's exit from the series prompted him to switch to Super Formula with backing from Red Bull.
Despite no single-seater running in five years outside of a preparatory TRS campaign in New Zealand, and driving for the unfancied B-Max team in its first year in an alliance with Motopark, Auer exceeded all expectations to score a podium in only his third race appearance, and finished the year ninth in the drivers’ standings.
Although Auer chose not to remain in Japan for a second season, Berger believes his nephew will be a stronger driver on his DTM comeback.
“The year in Japan has brought him a huge step forward in his personal development,” Berger told Motorsport.com. "He was away from home for the first time, learned to stand on his own two feet and to find his way around in a different culture.
“He has also developed his driving skills because the Super Formula cars are the fastest formula cars after Formula 1."
Lucas Auer, B-Max Racing Team