DTM season opener at Hockenheim: “May makes all things new ...”
- The 2011 DTM starts at the Hockenheimring on the 1st of May
- Audi has the youngest driver squad in its DTM history
- New drivers, new colors, new tires
“Alles neu macht der Mai” (“May makes all things new”): The poem by Hermann Adam von Kamp that is part of German folklore perfectly fits the DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring on the 1st of May (starting at 13:45 live on “Das Erste”) because at Audi, the only automobile manufacturer in the DTM to have achieved a title hat-trick to date, a number of things are completely different from last year. The tires: Just like Formula 1 the DTM has a new exclusive tire partner. The Audi drivers did a good job of handling the Hankook tires during the tests in winter. However, only Hockenheim will show how the relative strengths of the contenders manifest themselves in a direct comparison and who will do the best job of handling the new tires.
The drivers: After the 2010 season, which did not go according to plan, Audi exchanged three drivers and made two reassignments. With an average age of 27, the youngest but perhaps strongest driver squad in Audi’s DTM history will be on the grid. Only three drivers – Mattias Ekström, Timo Scheider and Oliver Jarvis – have kept their cockpits from last year.
At ten rounds there’s nothing to give away. The first weekend is already a very important one.”
The cockpit swaps: Mike Rockenfeller was the best driver of a year-old A4 last year and rewarded for this achievement. The Le Mans winner moved up into a current Audi A4 DTM from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and thus automatically belongs to the group of drivers aspiring to the title. “Rocky” swapped cockpits with Martin Tomczyk, who for the first time in his DTM career competes for a team other than Abt Sportsline and is now the “leader of the pack” at Audi Sport Team Phoenix.
The newcomers: Audi has signed three youngsters – Rahel Frey (Switzerland), Filipe Albuquerque (Portugal) and Edoardo Mortara (Italy) – who left promising impressions at a talent evaluation as well as at tests prior to the season. Particularly Albuquerque and Mortara, both of whom compete for Audi Sport Team Rosberg, are considered capable of delivering a similarly strong start as Miguel Molina did last year. At the Race of Champions in Düsseldorf last November Albuquerque defeated Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel among others. Mortara is also the current Formula 3 Euro Series champion.
The engineers: Pascal Zurlinden, who took care of Timo Scheider’s A4 last year, is the new Project Manager Technology DTM at Audi Sport. Scheider’s new vehicle engineer is Franco Chiocchetti, who worked on Tom Kristensen’s car from 2004 to 2009. The Englishman Oliver Jarvis now has a compatriot, Dave Benbow, at his side. Dominik Quosdorf was promoted from data engineer to vehicle engineer for Mike Rockenfeller at Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline.
The colors: Mattias Ekström is the only driver who does not have to get used to new colors – his A4 DTM continues sporting the Red Bull blue. All other Audi DTM drivers compete with colors and partners that are new to them. Martin Tomczyk arguably has the most conspicuous design (yellow/green) on his car. And for Timo Scheider his fifth year marks the first in which he does not climb into a black but a white A4 DTM car.
Other topics of the weekend
- How well will Audi start into the new DTM season?
- Who will do the best job of handling the new Hankook tires?
- How strong will Mike Rockenfeller be in his debut with Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline?
- How will the three newcomers fare in their DTM debut?
- Who will be the best driver of a year-old car?
Quotes by the officials
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport: “The season opener at Hockenheim is always a very special weekend for the whole squad. After last year, in which we weren’t as successful as we thought we’d be, we want to show right at the first race of the new season that we’re in contention for the championship. Everyone is bound and determined to give all they’ve got. We look forward to this and will compete with a reinforced squad. It includes many very strong drivers and every one of them has the chance of winning races. The fans can look forward to a very thrilling season. At ten rounds there’s nothing to give away. The first weekend is already a very important one.”
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “The whole team is really looking forward to the season opener at Hockenheim. We worked very hard in winter and are obviously hoping to be able to convert this work into successes. The squad is again expecting many fans to turn out and we’re all wishing for good results.”
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “After a five-month break we’re all very excited. It’s great to finally be feeling the adrenaline of the competition. During the test at the Lausitzring we were able to see how close our times are to those of the new cars. We handled the Hankook tires very well, so we’re confident. On the drivers’ side of the house we’ve got a completely new situation with Martin Tomczyk and Rahel Frey. Martin will be our “leader of the pack.” He’s very motivated. We’re giving him all the support we can and want to see him finish the season for us as the best driver of a year-old car. Rahel will need her break-in period at the beginning. She, too, receives our full support. We’re hoping to be scoring points with her too by the end of the year and would be completely happy if that were the case.”
Arno Zensen (Teamchef Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Everyone is happy that the winter is over and Hockenheim is coming up. We want to close the book on our 2010 season. In Filipe (Albuquerque) and Edoardo (Mortara) we’ve got exactly the combination in our team that we’ve been wishing for. I watched both of them during the evaluation last year. Team Rosberg is highly motivated for this season. Now we’re under pressure because next year a third manufacturer will join the DTM and each brand will enter fewer cars. If you want to remain in the series, you’ve got to show performance. We’re well aware of this.”
Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers
Filipe Albuquerque (25/P), TV Movie Audi A4 DTM #18 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
- Contests his first DTM race at Hockenheim
- Won the “Race of Champions” in Düsseldorf in November 2010
- In parallel to the DTM contests the Blancpain Endurance Series in the R8 LMS
“I’m an Audi driver – this is the dream of many racers today. I can hardly wait to compete at Hockenheim. It’ll be the first race in the DTM and a test of my own performances. I’m really looking forward to this. This championship is simply great. At the Lausitzring all Audi drivers tested together for the first time. Everything went smoothly. I’m optimistic.”
Mattias Ekström (32/S), Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #8 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
- Has contested as many as 104 races in ten DTM years
- Commandingly won the 2007 and 2008 season openers, lost victory in 2009 on the penultimate lap due to a puncture and in 2010 due to a wrong stop
- Became a father for the first time on the day after the DTM Presentation in Wiesbaden
“This year I’m really looking forward to the Hockenheimring. It’ll be a completely new competition with the new Hankook tires. All expectations are focused on us. My own expectations are very high too. Last year I was struggling a bit. This year I tried a lot of new things during my preparations in winter. That’s why I’m looking forward to qualifying and to the race with eager anticipation.”
Rahel Frey (25/CH), Glamour Audi A4 DTM #15 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
- Is making her DTM debut in Audi Sport Team Phoenix
- Had only sporadic racing commitments last year
“I feel a huge amount of enthusiasm before Hockenheim. I’m really excited about my first DTM race. Qualifying will be the crucial point. I’ve got to put the performance of the Hankook tires on the track. Qualifying is simply an important base for the race. I’ve decided to be a little patient with respect to my performances. That’s not easy for me because I tend to be very impatient when it comes to such things. It’s important to move forward in small steps.”
Oliver Jarvis (27/GB), Audi Sport performance cars A4 DTM #5 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
- Clinched his first podium finish at Hockenheim two years ago
- Starts into his 33rd DTM race and fourth season at the opening round
“Driving at Hockenheim gives me a big thrill. It’s one of my favorite tracks. The atmosphere with the large turnout of fans is amazing. It’s great to be sitting in a race car. Winter seemed like an eternity. We tested but nothing comes close to the feeling of driving a race. Hockenheim is one of the nicest circuits on the calendar and it’s also the track where I’ve clinched my best results. I’m hoping for a strong start to the season on the new Hankook tires. And if the beginning is good, then who knows? Hopefully, I’ll be in contention for victories and at the end of the year perhaps even for the championship win.”
Miguel Molina (22/E), Red Bull Audi A4 DTM #22 (Audi Sport Team Abt Junior)
- Clinched his first point as early as in his DTM debut at Hockenheim last year
- Continues to be the youngest member of the new Audi driver line-up
“The season opener at Hockenheim will be anything but easy. The new season starts and all of us will begin to use the tires of a new manufacturer. We’ve got to adapt the car to them. Still, I’m optimistic. A year ago I scored a point in my first race. This year I want to start out even better. I want to be competitive from the first race on. I’m ready and want to have a good season. My experience will increase, I want my results to improve and I want to help Audi to have a good championship this year.”
Edoardo Mortara (24/I/F), Playboy Audi A4 DTM #19 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
- Makes his DTM debut at Hockenheim
- Has Italian and French citizenship but competes under the Italian flag
“Hockenheim is my first race in the DTM. It’ll be very difficult for me. I’ve got no experience. We only had two days of testing. We’ll be working a lot with the car and the team but my attitude is very positive and I believe that we’ll be doing a good job.”
Mike Rockenfeller (27/D), E-POSTBRIEF Audi A4 DTM #9 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
- Has a new main partner, E-POSTBRIEF
- Was the best Audi driver at the first race of the 2010 season
“I’m incredibly excited about the 2011 season opener at Hockenheim coming up. It’ll be a really interesting start for me in a new team with a new car and a new sponsor. Many things are new. I’ll let myself be surprised. We had good tests in winter. It’s always great to see so many fans at the first race at Hockenheim and the track suits me too.”
Timo Scheider (32/D), AUTO TEST Audi A4 DTM #4 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
- After two years has to race for the first time in a car that is not designated as “number one”
- Is the most experienced DTM driver in the current field with 109 races under his belt
“The season opener at Hockenheim is just around the corner. I’m incredibly thrilled to be racing again after a long winter break. It’s been a really long wait before we’re now getting the chance to compete again in front of this wonderful crowd at Hockenheim. This is where I gathered most of my experience, felt the strongest emotions and celebrated most of my victories. I’m looking forward to the 1st of May.
Martin Tomczyk (29/D), Schaeffler Audi A4 DTM #14 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
- Is not competing for Abt for the first time in his career
- Started from the front row at last year’s season opener
“Every year the season starts at the Hockenheimring. And traveling to this circuit is always a special highlight. Not only because I really like the track but also because the response by the crowd is incredibly strong – not just at the end but also at the beginning of the season. Everyone is already pawing the ground, and the fans want to see us “live.” It’s always a very special feeling. And it’s a very nice atmosphere which you enjoy as a racer too. We’ve been very successful on this track in recent years and I’m hoping to manage a good start into this year there.”
Mike Rockenfeller about the Hockenheimring: “The atmosphere at the season opener is always very special. You see all the fans again for the first time, and in the famous Hockenheim Motodrom at that. From a racing perspective, the big questions predominate: a new car, a new team – where do you stand? The long version of the circuit is particularly demanding. In the Sachs-Kurve, for example, you look for the line year after year. I don’t think anyone has found the ideal line yet. Turn 1 is very spectacular. You can drive through it at extremely high speed, but it’s very bumpy in the area of the kerbs. You’ve got to show quite a bit of courage. In the second turn you’ve got to manage a perfect exit to be fast in the Parabolica. The best overtaking opportunities present themselves in front of the hairpin and in front of the grandstands in the second part of the track.”