Munich (DE), 8th October 2013. After the eventful race weekend in Zandvoort (NL), the four BMW DTM teams are now preparing for the season finale in Hockenheim (DE). While the Drivers’ Championship may have been decided, BMW Motorsport is focussing on the Manufacturers’ and Team titles at the tenth race of the year. BMW still has high hopes of ending the season on top in both championships. In an interview, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt speaks about the season so far and his goals for the final race at the “Motodrom”.
Mr. Marquardt, Mike Rockenfeller is already DTM champion before he even lines up at the DTM finale. How would you assess his performances this year?
Jens Marquardt: “Mike Rockenfeller was very hard to beat over the course of the season due to his consistency. Right from the word go he has finished in the points at every single race this year – and also drove very intelligently in those races, in which his grid position was far from ideal. Audi, the Phoenix team and ‘Rocky’ were very impressive in 2013. Therefore, I would like to congratulate them, on behalf of BMW Motorsport, on winning the title. ‘Rocky’ is also an extremely likeable racing driver. For this reason, a lot of people in the DTM paddock are very pleased for him.”
Did you believe Augusto Farfus could still catch ‘Rocky’?
Marquardt: “I obviously hoped he could, right down to the end. In my opinion, Augusto is the man of the hour at present. BMW Team RBM and he put together a fantastic run in the second half of the season. Four podiums and two back-to-back wins is an impressive record. Augusto did the best he possibly could and kept up the pressure on Rockenfeller. However, ‘Rocky’ refused to lower his guard and did a great job of calmly wrapping up the title in Zandvoort. He picked up points in every race, while Augusto failed to score in three. That was ultimately what made the difference. We recognise this performance without any grudge.”
Looking at the wider picture, how would you sum up the season so far?
Marquardt: “The second season after our comeback has so far been as difficult as we expected it to be. We started the year with fantastic results, such as the one-two in Hockenheim and the historic one-two-three in Spielberg. Then we went through a difficult phase, which we fought our way out of gradually. Augusto’s results, in particular, show we have grown stronger and stronger in the second half of the season. We have scored an average 35 points per race in 2013. By the same point in 2012, this figure was three points fewer. However, the strength of depth in the DTM has moved up another notch. For this reason, we have to be more compact as a team and get good results across the board. That is our goal for the remaining race and for the 2014 season.”
After last season and good results in the first few races, a lot of people expected BMW to run away with it this year. What do you think were the reasons for the difficulties you had this year?
Marquardt: “There were a few changes at the start of the season, which had a significant effect on us. DRS and option tyres made for more turbulent races and sometimes made it hard to predict how a race was going to pan out – particularly early on in the season, when both were still quite difficult to predict. The shorter race weekend format gives less room for optimising the car. Anyone who doesn’t find the ideal set-up in free practice has no chance to score a top result in qualifying. For example, there was only eight tenths of a second between first and 22nd in qualifying in Zandvoort. And it is almost impossible for anyone starting from right at the back to come through the field, despite some strategic opportunities. Another factor: we expanded our commitment and have competed with four teams and eight cars from the start of the season. It goes without saying we had to adjust some internal processes, and it takes some time for a new structure to bed in.”
What are your goals for the remaining races?
Marquardt: “There are still two titles up for grabs in Hockenheim. Marco Wittmann has already secured the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title in the DTM. BMW and BMW Team RBM are only a few points off the leaders in both the Manufacturers’ Championship and the Team competition. Our main focus is now on trying to finish on top of both championships after the race in Hockenheim. Everyone – whether at BMW Motorsport or in our teams – will work nonstop to make this possible. The Manufacturers’ title is very important in the fiercely-competitive DTM.”
What makes you confident you will have another title to celebrate in Hockenheim?
Marquardt: “After the lull in the middle of the season, our form is definitely on the up again. We are hungry for another top result to end the season after two wins in a row. Everyone in the team is extremely motivated. Furthermore, Hockenheim suits us. It goes without saying that the opposition are also out to finish the season in style. After all, there is still a lot at stake. For this reason, the one thing already certain is the fans in Hockenheim can look forward to another captivating finale – even though the Drivers’ Championship has already been decided. I can only encourage everyone to come to the track on 19th and 20th October. The atmosphere at the season finale is always amazing – and we are looking forward to it.”