Mike Rockenfeller will contest a DTM race with the #1 for the defending champion decorating his Audi RS 5 DTM.
Hockenheim. On Sunday, when the red starting lights at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg are switched off, the 23 drivers racing for Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz finally are back in their element. And for reigning champion Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) in particular it will be a very special race. For the first time, ‘Rocky’ will contest a DTM race with the #1 for the defending champion decorating his Audi RS 5 DTM. And he is ready to again battle it out with his colleagues who just can’t wait for giving him a hard time and stealing his title. “I’m happy to return to Hockenheim and to attack. Everybody is travelling to the first race with high expectations, and so am I: my goal is to manage a good start into the season and immediately score plenty of points. My two races at Hockenheim last year were fair to middling at best, so I‘ve got high ambitions here for 2014,” said Rockenfeller.
‘Rocky’ is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ – the seven champions on the 2014 DTM grid. More than ever before in the ’30 years of DTM’. Apart from the reigning champion, his fellow Audi drivers Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström, the BMW pairing Bruno Spengler and Martin Tomczyk as well as the Mercedes-Benz aces Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett also have won DTM titles, in the past. In addition to Di Resta, who makes his comeback in the most popular international touring-car series after three years in Formula 1, there are four completely new faces on this year’s DTM grid: Switzerland’s Nico Müller races for Audi, Belgian Maxime Martin and Portugal’s António Félix da Costa will represent the Audi camp and Mercedes-Benz’ new signing Vitaly Petrov is the first Russian driver in the DTM history and in addition, he joins the small fraternity of former F1 drivers on the 2014 DTM grid – formed by Di Resta and Timo Glock – as third driver who switched from the pinnacle of single-seater racing to the pinnacle of touring-car racing.
BMW wants to successfully defend the manufacturers’ title with a new car and is going to enter a total of eight BMW M4 DTM for the 2014 season. The rookies Martin and Félix da Costa just can’t wait for the season opener. “It is good that the waiting for the first race is finally over. I am aware of the fact that the first races will be a big challenge for me without any DTM experience but I am really looking forward to them,” said Felix da Costa. “DTM is something completely new to me, and very different to what I have experienced up to now. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to this challenge. My goal is to learn quickly and make progress over the course of the season. That is the most important thing,” explained Martin. The other six BMW drivers are well-known faces for the motor-racing enthusiasts: Augusto Farfus, Joey Hand, Timo Glock, Marco Wittmann as well as Bruno Spengler and Martin Tomczyk who both will race for BMW Team Schnitzer as two-champion driver pairing.
Meanwhile, Audi also has got such a pairing: Following a major driver rotation, Timo Scheider is going to contest the 2014 season as team-mate of reigning champion Mike Rockenfeller for Audi Sport Team Phoenix. “This year, I am even more excited prior to the first race than usual – and the butterflies in my stomach are getting stronger and stronger,” said experienced Audi ace Scheider to then announce his goals for the coming season. “Good results in the first races can really put you on a roll – and that’s definitely what I want to get on in 2014.” While Müller is preparing for a learning phase. “There will be a large number of challenges at Hockenheim – especially for me as a rookie. I would like to learn as much as possible and definitely finish the race,” he said regarding the season kick-off. “Every experience gathered here will prove to be helpful during the course of the year. If things go well for me, I am going to attack.” The Audi squad around Rockenfeller, Scheider, Ekström and Müller will be completed by Jamie Green, Miguel Molina, Edoardo Mortara and Adrien Tambay.
The regulations have been changed in several areas. The qualifying will consist of three instead of four phases, with the fastest eight drivers battling it out for the pole in Q3. There will be only one instead of the previously two obligatory pit stops and this stop has to be made in the second third of the race. The option tyre provided by DTM’s exclusive tyre partner Hankook still must be used once in a race but mustn’t be used for more than 50 percent of the race distance. The DRS now also may be used on the final three laps of a race. Also new are the performance weights. All the drivers will contest the season opener at Hockenheim with 10kg performance weights aboard their cars and depending on the race results of their brands in the coming races, they will have to add a maximum of up to another 10kg performance weight or get rid off a maximum of up to 10kg. (Please find here a detailed overview regarding the performance-weight allocation.)
The first of the 10 races on the 2014 DTM race calendar will be started on Sunday, 04th May, at 13:30hrs CEST (12:30hrs BST), with the coverage of DTM’s German TV partner ARD beginning at 13:15hrs CEST. The qualifying on Saturday will begin at 16:25hrs CEST (15:25hrs BST) and the ARD live coverage at 16:15hrs CEST.