Hockenheim. The test sessions have been concluded, countdown for the DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg on May 5th is running. For four days, the teams from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz had their cars running in the second and final official ITR test at Hockenheim. Now, they have three weeks to analyse the final data and prepare their cars for the first encounter of the season.
Next to Jamie Green, who has changed from Mercedes-Benz to Audi, the test session was particularly important for the four rookies in the most popular international touring car series: ex-Formula 1 driver Timo Glock and his fellow BMW driver Marco Wittmann, as well as Formula 3 champion Daniel Juncadella and Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes-Benz. They racked up countless kilometres and acquired valuable experience in their new environment, also in the rain. On three of the eight test days that were held in total at Barcelona and Hockenheim, Wittmann set the fastest time of the day.
All 22 drivers also used the opportunity to get used to the technical innovations for the 2013 season. This year, drivers have new tactical possibilities at their disposal because of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) and the Hankook option tyres. These two new features are to make the DTM races even more exciting and with more variety.
For me, a new era begins.
On Friday, Augusto Farfus set the final fastest time of the day prior to the start of the season with his BMW M3 DTM in 1:32.976 minutes, followed by his fellow BMW drivers Bruno Spengler (1:33.189 minutes) and Timo Glock (1:33.320 minutes). Christian Vietoris was classified fourth with his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé and a lap time of 1:33.453 minutes. On the final day, Mike Rockenfeller was the best-placed driver of an Audi RS 5 DTM in sixth place (1:33.630 minutes).
Farfus’s fastest time also was the outright fastest time in the aggregation of all the Hockenheim test days. The fastest Audi driver of the week was Miguel Molina on Wednesday, the fastest Mercedes-Benz driver was Vietoris on the final day. Glock racked up the longest distance on Friday: 653.796 kilometres on a total of 143 laps, more than any other driver during this week.
Quotes after the fourth test day:
Miguel Molina (Audi): “These were two good days for me. Unfortunately, we haven’t achieved everything what we had planned due to the changeable conditions, but it was enough to make me confident for the season opener. The fact that I was the fastest Audi driver of the week makes me happy, but to be honest, doesn’t mean a lot to me. It is qualifying at Hockenheim that counts. I have tried the option tyres twice and it was great fun. I am quite curious to see which strategies we will see during the races with the new possibilities.”
Timo Glock (BMW): “Generally, the Hockenheim test was very positive for my BMW Team MTEK and BMW Motorsport. Of course, we had a lot of rain. But that isn’t a major problem either, because we will get one or the other race in the rain during the season as well. We are getting better lap after lap and we are also getting quicker with the pit stops, which we have practiced intensely. Noticing an upward trend from one test to another makes me feel good. Hopefully, this trend will also continue during the first race at Hockenheim. In Formula 1, I wasn’t used to such a late start into the season, but surely, my maiden DTM race for BMW at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg in front of packed grandstands will be an undisputed highlight in my career. For me, a new era begins.”
Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz): “At Hockenheim, we had changeable conditions throughout. These allowed us to try some different scenarios, but the weather situation also caused many interruptions. All in all, however, I am happy with the test. The team has done a great job and we most certainly have a car that is competitive for the upcoming season.”
DTM Technology corner
Marshalling system: After successful tests, the DTM will be using a so-called marshalling system for the first time in the 2013 season, which gives race control an excellent overview of which car is where at the race track at any given moment. Every race car has been equipped with a control unit, a transmitting aerial, a GPS aerial and sensors that measure the wheel speeds. This enables the system to accurately determine the position of the car within one metre, and transmit it to race control. This even works in case the satellite connection breaks down. The marshalling system also transmits relevant information to the driver in the car. For instance, the use of the new Drag Reduction System is being enabled. When a driver comes within two seconds of an opponent, he is allowed to put the rear wing of his car into a flat position once during the next lap, to enhance his chances of overtaking. Moreover, flag signals are being transmitted to the drivers, for instance blue flags (let past) to a slower car or the yellow flag (warning, danger, overtaking prohibited) to those DTM drivers who happen to be in the relevant section of the track at that time.