Hockenheim. The 2013 DTM season has started. With his Audi RS 5 DTM, Timo Scheider was fastest in qualifying for the season opener at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg.
The 2008 and 2009 DTM champion will be starting from pole position on Sunday. The 34-year old completed his lap of the 4.574 kilometres long track in 1:35.918 minutes and thus ended ahead of Brazilian Augusto Farfus (BMW) and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz), who were second and third respectively.
For Scheider, it is already his eleventh pole in the DTM. “I am extremely happy. This is a perfect start into the season. Today, we have achieved a really good lap. Let’s wait and see how many good laps we can do in the race on Sunday,” Scheider said after qualifying, which started on a wet track after continuous rain. However, conditions improved steadily and the asphalt dried out towards the end.
Farfus, who will be starting alongside Scheider from the first row with his BMW M3 DTM, was also very upbeat with his qualifying result: “That was a difficult qualifying with changeable conditions. I got it together quite well and I am very happy with second place. Tomorrow, it will be exciting, especially with the new features, the option tyres and DRS.”
With his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, Christian Vietoris came within 0.276 seconds of the fastest time of the day. Vietoris said: “We didn’t know where we are. I am happy with the result. The team has done a great job. In the final qualifying heat, I pushed, but unfortunately, Augusto and Farfus pushed a little bit more.”
For Robert Wickens (Mercedes-Benz), qualifying ended with disappointment. For the first time in his DTM career, the Canadian made it into the final heat of the four-heat qualifying, but then, in the battle for first place, he crossed a white line of the track limit with all four wheels of his car, after which he was disallowed his lap time by race control.
Fifth-placed Swede Mattias Ekström (Audi) was followed by the two title contenders of the previous year, Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz) and DTM champion Bruno Spengler (BMW) in sixth and seventh place respectively. “Seven was my starting number in 2012, so the result is not that bad when you look at it this way,” Spengler said with a smile.
The youngest driver in DTM history, Pascal Wehrlein (Mercedes-Benz), showed an impressive performance. In his first-ever DTM qualifying, the 18-year old ended up eighth.
The DTM is booming and even three times’ Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel took the opportunity to watch first qualifying of the year from up close at the track. Like his fellow F1 drivers Nico Rosberg and Nico Hülkenberg, Vettel witnessed the qualifying premiere of Timo Glock (BMW), in which the ex-Formula 1 driver ended up in 15th place.
“It is too bad that we didn’t end up more to the front. I felt really well in the car, but we have to learn to understand the tyres, especially in wet conditions,” said Glock.
On Sunday, two technical novelties will be used in the race for the first time. The Drag Reduction System (DRS), which allows the driver to temporarily adjust their rear wing from the cockpit and thus increase their top speed, as well as the option tyres, which differs from the regular DTM tyre with a softer rubber compound and allows for 1 to 1.5 seconds faster lap times for a while.
The first race of the season covers 42 laps and 192.108 kilometres and starts on Sunday at 13:30 hrs (CET).
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): After a winter of intensive work in which we tried to squeeze the optimum out of the Audi RS 5 DTM, grid position one at the first race of the season is a nice reward for the entire squad of Audi Sport, our three teams and the suppliers who worked extremely hard over the past few months. Today, we could see how close the competition is again this year in the DTM. The spectators can look forward to an interesting race tomorrow.
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): Well done to Timo Scheider, his engineer and Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline: They did everything right today in these extremely difficult conditions and deserve clinching the pole position. But I think that qualifying was just a foretaste of the race tomorrow, which not least due to the conditions today will be a journey into the unknown. Of course its our aim to make it into the top ten with more than two cars.
Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 1: When you analyze the data in the winter, of course your wish is to do everything better in the new season. We had a rough winter with respect to the development. But I, personally, wanted to improve compared to the previous years as well. Being on the pole position after the first day in the 2013 season is an incredible feeling and is very good for the team too.
Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 5: Im happy with qualifying. My new engineer Florian (Modlinger) and his guys did a perfect job in the wet. In the end, I was struggling a bit in mixed weather and my driving wasnt perfect. I didnt make any mistakes but drove too conservatively.
Jamie Green (Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 12: It was a bit frustrating because we couldnt squeeze the maximum out of the rain tires in the conditions of a drying track. Thats why, in the end, I didnt have enough grip when the track got drier. As a result, it was only enough for twelfth place.
Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra RS 5 DTM), grid position 13: Compared with free practice on Saturday morning qualifying wasnt so bad. I only missed Q3 due to a small mistake in the last turn. In the end, we were struggling a bit with the tires but I probably pushed a little too much when the track became drier. Were starting in the middle of the field, which is always a bit dangerous here at Hockenheim. But Im going to try and have a good first lap and then continue to battle my way forward.
Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 14: Grid position 14 is disappointing. We were running well when it was really wet. In the mixed conditions we did something wrong. Even in Q1 nothing was possible anymore and Q2 was a real catastrophe for me.
Filipe Albuquerque (Audi Financial Services RS 5 DTM), grid position 16: In Q1, my performance was good. I was struggling with the set-up because my car had understeer but I managed to compensate for that pretty well and was able to drive a fast lap. But in Q2 it was impossible for me to improve. Something wasnt right; maybe it was the air pressure.
Miguel Molina (Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 18: This wasnt the best way to start into the new season. I had traffic in Q1 and wasnt able to drive a fast lap. That meant it was over for me right after Q1. Tomorrow weve got to try and do as good a job as possible of putting the new regulations on track in the first race.
Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM), grid position 19: For me, it was a tough qualifying session. We were a bit unfortunate with the conditions and probably didnt manage making some minor settings on the tire pressure perfectly. The track was starting to dry and I think that our set-up was more suitable for the wetter track because I wasnt able to improve as much as the other drivers.
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): Getting started again after such a long winter with such a result at Hockenheim makes me proud. Thats the reward for the work done by Audi and our team over the past few months. We didnt know for a long time where we stood. But due to the perfect work of our team and of course of Timo (Scheider) in todays difficult conditions we clinched the pole position. We can all be very pleased with that.
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): After free practice in the rain we were pretty confident. When it was still very wet at the beginning of the qualifying session both drivers were happy. When the track began to dry we had difficulties with the tires, neither of our two drivers was able to improve toward the end of Q1. Miguel (Molina) was eliminated while Rocky had a better lap time and moved on. In Q2, we wanted to take advantage of the drying track at the end and only go out then to set our time. But we didnt manage to do that either. Now weve got to advance in the race from unfortunate positions. But thanks to the regulations a lot is possible. We can probably recover quite a bit in the race.
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): Congratulations to Dieter Gass and to Timo Scheider. We dont know exactly yet what we did right or wrong. Well only find out in the race on Sunday whether our set-up is on the mark or not. In any event, itll be very thrilling.