Ingolstadt -- When DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom returns to Hockenheim with Audi for the season opener on 13 April, this will evoke special memories. It is the venue where the Swede won the season-opening race last year and in the finale on the ...
Ingolstadt -- When DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom returns to Hockenheim with Audi for the season opener on 13 April, this will evoke special memories. It is the venue where the Swede won the season-opening race last year and in the finale on the 4.574-kilometre circuit secured the title in one of the most thrilling races in the history of the DTM. The first race of the 2008 season will be broadcast live on "Das Erste" on Sunday, starting at 1:45 p.m. (local time).
After your victory at the 2007 season opener and the title win last year, does Hockenheim have a special meaning for you?
"Hockenheim is the circuit that evokes the strongest emotions. You come to the first race with butterflies in your stomach. Finally, you're back on the track. And you ask yourself: 'Where do I stand in comparison to the competition?' The fact that you contest the finale there, as well, always makes Hockenheim a very special venue. Even though the circuit does not differ from others in a major way, it presents a historically interesting situation: those running in front at Hockenheim usually compete for the title as well."
What are the special characteristics of this circuit?
"The circuit features a mix of slow and fast turns as well as short and very long corners. From a driver's perspective, this is a nice variety on each lap, but you've got to be well sorted with your car."
Where can fans look forward to overtaking manoeuvres?
"You can see overtaking attempts in various places now and then. But for me, there is only one corner that really lends itself to passing: the hairpin. There, the fans can witness some truly spectacular action year after year."
What effect does the enthusiasm of the audience have?
"At the last round, in October, 152,000 spectators came to Hockenheim. For the season opener, over 100,000 people have consistently come to watch our sport for many years. That's simply incredible. The fans put up banners, they spur on Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, or me personally, and flock to the paddock or the pit lane for the pitwalk in large numbers. There are three dates on the race schedule which are absolute highlights for me in terms of the audience: Hockenheim 1, the Norisring and Hockenheim 2."