DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring on May 4.
Ingolstadt - New faces, new cars, new rules: The DTM is starting the 2014 season with a fresh breeze. The season opener at Hockenheim (May 2 to 4) marks the beginning of the title defense project for Audi and the reigning Champion Mike Rockenfeller. The squad of Audi Sport has newly developed the Championship winning Audi RS 5 DTM in large part for this purpose and in youngster Nico Müller is putting an ambitious rookie on the grid.
Audi is entering its eleventh DTM season following its comeback as a manufacturer. Since 2004 the squad took the driver title six times and clinched 38 victories. Mike Rockenfeller and his Audi Sport Team Phoenix most recently won the titles in the driver and team classifications a successful track record Audi Sport would like to continue this year. To do so the squad of Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and Dieter Gass, Head of DTM, perfectly prepared in winter.
The 2014-generation Audi RS 5 DTM appears clearly more aggressive due to its aerodynamics, featuring a near-complete new development. At the front, the car has received new air ducts feeding the engines and the brakes plus the honeycomb grill from the production version. As a result, the race car now bears an even greater resemblance to the road cars from the RS model range. Equally obvious are the innovations on the sides of the car. To further improve the efficiency of the airflow, the area between the front and rear wheels was completely redesigned.
The rules of the DTM have been fine-tuned for 2014. Instead of the previous two only one mandatory pit stop must be performed, in the middle third of the race. The Drag Reduction System (DRS) with which the driver can lower the angle of the rear wing may now be used up to the finish. Further innovations: All entrants start with a basic weight (driver plus car) of 1,120 kilograms. The drivers of a brand have to either add or reduce weight for the next race, depending on their success. The option tires may now only be used for 50 percent of the race distance.
The compact format of the weekend has remained nearly unchanged. The rollout on Friday afternoon is followed on Saturday by free practice and qualifying which, starting in 2014, is held in only three sections. The race on Sunday afternoon lasts a maximum of 75 minutes.
Quotes by the officials
Dieter Gass (Head of DTM): The first race weekend at Hockenheim marks the end of a long and intensive period of preparation. Audi Sport, the teams and the drivers did not rest on the laurels of the success achieved in 2013 but worked hard in order to continue exactly where we left off. Were competing with an Audi RS 5 DTM that is largely a new development and have set new impulses by reallocating the drivers to the teams. Im convinced that with our car, our line-up and our team weve got the possibility to defend the title and to also reach for the manufacturers classification.
Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): Weve set a new agenda in the past months in order to return to a winning track in 2014. With new drivers, new faces in the team and a new motorsport center in Kempten weve got all the prerequisites we need to be in contention at the front of the field. The whole squad is extremely motivated and committed to a single aim: We want to win again.
Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): Its a great honor to compete with cars #1 and #2. Were set on performing accordingly and immediately continuing the success of the past year at the season opener. We had some tests that werent so easy but ultimately found a set-up were going to start with on the race weekend. Im hoping for a large turnout at the track. The spectators will get to see thrilling motorsport.
Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): Were delighted that the action is finally starting again. The track tests at Budapest and Hockenheim were positive, which makes us optimistic. Im happy with my new driver pairing the mix of youth and experience is great fun. Our aim is to continue the performances we showed the year before last and to clinch victories again.
Facts and quotes by the Audi drivers
Mattias Ekström (35/S), Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM #7 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
- Has won the Hockenheim season opener twice
- Starts his 14th DTM season with Audi
Even though this is the beginning of my 14th DTM season the opening race is always very special. I think its the most thrilling race weekend of the year because so many things are new and after a long winter youll only find out at this event where you stand compared to the competition. We did our homework in the past months. My team and I feel ready to put the cards on the table.
Jamie Green (31/GB), Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM #21 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
- Switched from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline to Audi Sport Team Rosberg
- Was on podium seven times at Hockenheim and scored two victories there
A new car, a new team and a new team-mate the first race of the year will be exciting. Nobody can predict where they stand compared to the competition, so were in for thrilling afternoons on Saturday and Sunday. Im looking forward to them.
Miguel Molina (25/E), Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM #8 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
- Switched back to Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline
- Achieved his only podium result in the DTM to date at Hockenheim
I feel comfortable with the new car, my team and my race engineer. We gathered a lot of data during the track tests that were analyzing now in order to be perfectly prepared for the first weekend. There are some changes that will make the sport even more exciting for the spectators. I think its good that new ideas are proposed and put into action now and again.
Edoardo Mortara (27/I), Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM #15 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
- Switched to Audi Sport Team Abt
- In 2012 clinched the only two victories of the season for Audi
I received a warm welcome by my new team and get on really well with the guys and my engineer. Together with the car, which I familiarized myself with pretty well during the track tests, this makes me feel optimistic for Hockenheim. Well only know exactly where we stand during the course of the weekend, but were starting the new season with high expectations.
Nico Müller (22/CH), Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM #22 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
- Is contesting the first DTM race of his life at Hockenheim
- In Audi Sport Team Rosberg competes alongside seasoned campaigner Jamie Green
During the track tests we had the opportunity to optimally prepare for the season. Still, therell be a large number of unsuspected challenges at Hockenheim especially for me as a rookie. Id like to learn as much as possible and definitely finish the race. Im going to benefit from every experience here during the course of the year. If things go well for me, Im going to attack.
Mike Rockenfeller (30/D), Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM #1 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
- Starts the season as the reigning Champion in car #1
- Competes with the colors of Schaeffler Group on the RS 5 DTM for the third year
Im happy to return to Hockenheim and to attack. Everybody is traveling to the first race with high expectations, and so am I: My goal is to manage a good start of the season and immediately score plenty of points. My two races at Hockenheim last year were fair to middling at best, so Ive got high ambitions here for 2014.
Timo Scheider (35/D), AUTO TEST Audi RS 5 DTM #2 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
- Switched to Audi Sport Team Phoenix
- Started from the pole position in last years opening race
This year, Im even more excited before the first race than usual and the butterflies in my stomach are getting stronger and stronger. In 2013, I started the season from the pole position. Now Im again aiming to immediately make a good showing at Hockenheim. Good results in the first races can really put you on a roll and thats definitely what I want to get on in 2014.
Adrien Tambay (23/F), Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM #16 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
- Competes sporting the colors of the mens magazine Playboy in 2014
- Is entering his third DTM season with Audi Sport Team Abt
In my first two DTM years, I always had difficult first races. But this time, Im feeling better prepared than ever before. Ive got more experience and a good feeling after the track tests in winter. In the DTM, the perfect package of driver, team and car is crucial. Im optimistic that weve got everything it takes to be in contention at the front of the field.