How the standout DTM privateer earned Audi stars' respect

Ferdinand Habsburg says he feels “grateful” to have earned the respect of Audi's factory DTM stars after starring in the 2020 season with the customer WRT team.

How the standout DTM privateer earned Audi stars' respect

Following R-Motorsport’s withdrawal from the DTM after the 2019 season, Habsburg moved to WRT for his second year in the category alongside rookies Fabio Scherer and Harrison Newey.

An incident during practice compromised Habsburg during the season opener at Spa, but the Austrian driver bounced back strongly a fortnight later to finish sixth at the Lausitzring, opening the points account for his team.

A maiden front row start and a run four consecutive points finished followed at the Nurburgring double header, before he turned heads at Zolder with a first pole position and a first podium for a privateer in the series’ Class One era.

The 23-year-old went to secure a top 10 position in the drivers’ standings, beating three factory drivers from the BMW stable - including race winner Lucas Auer.

Asked how his rivals reacted when they saw a driver from a privateer team beating his factory counterparts, Habsburg said he was flattered that several Audi factory stars came up to him to congratulate him for his success.

“So in DTM we have like a podium ceremony for the qualifying sessions,” Habsburg told Motorsport.com. “I was quite frequently there at the end of the season. And when I got to P2 [at Zolder], Rene was on pole and he came up to me out of the car and he said, ‘Respect’. That’s not bad because I was like three hundredths off I think.

“Then the next day I was on pole and I had beaten him by three hundredths of a second. And he came up to me again and said, ‘Respect, biggest respect’. 

“At the end of the season they all came up to me in the interviews and they were like, ‘You did well this year’, which makes me go a little bit shy because these are the guys... Rocky [Mike Rockenfeller] is a champion, Rene is a champion, Jamie [Green] is nearly a champion. They’ve been doing it for so many years. Loic [Duval] has been doing it for so many years. 

“So it was crazy. Very grateful for that. I wish I could have done it more often and done it for another year because I feel we had a good chance at doing something even more special. But I guess what we got out of it is already quite special.”

Read Also:

The Class One era of the DTM came to a close at the 2020 season finale at Hockenheim, with the long-running German touring car category adopting GT3 regulations next year in response to Audi’s exit as a factory entrant.

Habsburg feels he and WRT could have achieved a lot more in the DTM had the rules remained stable for another season.

“We walked away from Hockenheim extremely melancholic about the championship and the [Class One] car being over,” he said. “But also because we were just so inexperienced compared to guys in the championship. 

“We needed another year at least because we were just getting to know each other. We were falling in love with each other because it just happened in Zolder. The faith was building. 

“Now it has been cut off. I’m very grateful for all the things that we’ve achieved this year, the momentum and the movement in the series. I’m super sad that it is over. Hopefully I’ll be able to work with WRT again because we know we know each other well now.”

Ferdinand Habsburg, Audi Sport Team WRT

Ferdinand Habsburg, Audi Sport Team WRT

Photo by: ITR eV

shares
comments
Rast will be seen as DTM legend in 10 years - Rockenfeller

Previous article

Rast will be seen as DTM legend in 10 years - Rockenfeller

Next article

BMW may be absent from DTM grid at start of 2021

BMW may be absent from DTM grid at start of 2021
Load comments

About this article

Series DTM
Drivers Ferdinand Habsburg
Teams Audi Sport Team WRT
Author Rachit Thukral
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Prime

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One ruleset, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race.

DTM
Oct 14, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis? Prime

Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Prime

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000.

DTM
May 5, 2020
Why the DTM must reinvent itself after Audi exit Prime

Why the DTM must reinvent itself after Audi exit

Audi's announcement that it will withdraw from the DTM at the end of 2020 was the latest blow for a series that has lost three manufacturers in as many years. Some major soul-searching will now be required to assess how it can survive.

DTM
Apr 28, 2020
Why cynic Berger changed his mind over green tech in racing Prime

Why cynic Berger changed his mind over green tech in racing

DTM boss Gerhard Berger was a detractor of Formula E and held a reluctance for his series to embrace greener engine technologies. However, this cynic's tune has had to change to ensure DTM's existence as the motorsport world moves forward

DTM
Dec 13, 2019
What the fallout from Aston's engine split means for 2020 Prime

What the fallout from Aston's engine split means for 2020

Aston Martin's DTM arrival, via the R-Motorsport outfit, was heralded as a salvation of sorts for the series. After plenty of bumps in the road in 2019, the team finds itself in a similar position to the one it was in 12 months ago. Can it get its act together?

DTM
Dec 6, 2019
How the DTM and Super GT can build on their experiment Prime

How the DTM and Super GT can build on their experiment

The Class One 'Dream Race' staged by the DTM and SUPER GT proved a hit - from a competitive and collaborative standpoint. The next step will be for both parties to ensure a successful trial ends up being more than just that.

Super GT
Nov 29, 2019
Robot pitcrews and hydrogen – is DTM's concept plausible? Prime

Robot pitcrews and hydrogen – is DTM's concept plausible?

DTM organiser ITR has mooted a radical plan for a "truly new and inspiring" future motorsport series. How realistic are its suggestions of automated pitstops and 1000bhp hydrogen-fuelled touring cars?

DTM
Nov 11, 2019