Wiesbaden. The DTM season 2013 is history. The most popular international touring car series this year offered many spectacular races and celebrated a new champion. Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller won the drivers' title, for the first time in his career. In this interview, Hans Werner Aufrecht, Chairman of DTM rights holder and promoter ITR eV, looks back on the racing year 2013.
With hindsight, how do you assess the 2013 DTM season? What has been the most memorable feature of the year? I think we provided fantastic motor racing. I know, that’s a claim made often by us but this year, many things were different. The introduction of the DRS wing and the option tyres made the racing much more colourful. We witnessed countless overtaking manoeuvres and many spectacular scenes. It certainly didn’t work perfectly at all the racetracks but the approach was fine. I’m proud that it did the trick and that the drivers were able to make use of it.
Have you been particularly delighted about the fact that Timo Glock, who was signed as DTM crowd-puller but had his familiarisation problems succeeded in demonstrating his true skills by winning at Hockenheim? As I see it, the topic Formula 1 often is treated somewhat disrespectfully - as if some drivers just want to supplement their retirement pension, in DTM. That’s annoying me. All these guys want to give their very best and achieve the best possible results but suddenly they realise that DTM represents a completely different task - and that they possibly don’t know how to solve it, in the beginning. But drivers such as Timo Glock who work hard and fight to succeed will prevail, in the end. Good drivers can do it. Remember Jean Alesi or Mika Häkkinen. Others possibly gave up to early but the good ones make it everywhere. That’s what was demonstrated by Timo Glock at Hockenheim.
The 10 rounds of the 2013 DTM season were attended by a total crowd of 705,500 spectators. An impressive figure but slightly below the record attendance of last year, when BMW made their comeback. What is the key to thrilling so many people on site? After all, this figure is clearly higher than the ones of the 2010 and 2011 seasons - despite the slight drop. The BMW comeback certainly caused a boom, last year. Nonetheless, I’m not satisfied as the readability of our races suffered, this year. For me, providing more man-vs.-man battles represents the key to keeping or even improving this level. That’s what’s fascinating the spectators, other than some strategic battles without direct contact of the respective opponents.
Are there some drivers you’d particularly like to see in these man-vs.-man battles? It’s absolutely correct that we also need names in DTM. How should drivers such as Roberto Merhi or Marco Wittmann make a mark if they hadn’t got the chance of defeating the big stars. As I see it, that’s the only way to become a star yourself. If we succeed in creating a grid with big stars and great young guns that’s the mix DTM needs.
Final question: How do you asses the season of Mike Rockenfeller who won his first DTM title? From my point of view, focusing on this season only is not quite enough. Mike Rockenfeller demonstrated exactly what is important in DTM. He made a great start, in the series, but afterwards, he had to cope with several somewhat difficult periods. But Mike Rockenfeller struggled through in impressive style and never lost his self-belief. Therefore, he is a well-deserved and absolutely worthy DTM Campion. He displayed outstanding consistency and I think that his past represented the basis for his success in 2013.