- Mattias Ekström in third place at Hockenheimring
- 142,000 spectators witnessed fast and furious start of new DTM era
- Total of four Audi A5 DTM cars in the points
Ingolstadt/Hockenheim, April 29, 2012 – In front of an impressive crowd of 142,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) the DTM made a fast and furious start into its new era with a turbulent race at the Hockenheimring.
The new Audi A5 DTM started from the pole position and finished in third place after 40 laps. This marked a repetition of DTM history. In 1990, Hans-Joachim Stuck clinched third place in Audi’s first DTM race in the V8 quattro at Zolder – at the end of the year he became champion. In 2004, Mattias Ekström took third place on the Audi A4 DTM’s first run at Hockenheim as well.
The Swede, too, captured the title in the end. Mattias Ekström started from the pole position in his Red Bull Audi A5 DTM at the Hockenheimring and immediately took the lead, which he kept until lap five before making a braking mistake in turn two, dropping behind Jamie Green and shortly afterward behind Gary Paffett too. From then on the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline concentrated on safeguarding third place which, as in Formula 1, is rewarded with 15 points this year.
“When you start from the pole position third place is certainly not your dream result,” said Mattias Ekström. “But our rival was simply better today; we’ve got to accept that. But not to worry: we’ll come back! It was very warm today and we didn’t have the optimum set-up for these conditions.” Mike Rockenfeller in the Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Phoenix took fifth place after having to let Mercedes driver Christian Vietoris pass shortly before the end of the race.
His team-mate Miguel Molina in the Red Bull Audi A5, who had started from position 17 on the grid, scored points in ninth place as well. The top ten at the DTM opening round were completed by Filipe Albuquerque in the TV Movie Audi A5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Rosberg, who thus grabbed the last point. Albuquerque’s team-mate Edoardo Mortara in his Playboy Audi A5 DTM was running in the top group in the first half of the race but after a collision with the BMW of Joey Hand had to serve a drive-through penalty that caused him to drop from fourth to twelfth place.
He ultimately finished in eleventh place. Rahel Frey in her E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM was fighting a duel with her rival Susie Wolff almost during the whole race. She lost a possible 13th place shortly before the end of the race after spinning. The Swiss finished the race in 16th place. Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM) and Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra A5 DTM) were forced to retire. Scheider was hit by Ralf Schumacher right on lap one and later by Roberto Merhi. The suspension of his A5 DTM was damaged in the process.
After a few strong initial laps, Adrien Tambay was running in the top ten on his DTM debut before the Frenchman became entangled in a collision through no fault of his own and was forced to park his car with a defective radiator. “After yesterday’s pole position third place was certainly not what we’d been expecting from the race,” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
“We’ve got to analyse why we didn’t have the performance we thought we’d have in the race. By finishing third Mattias Ekström made the best of the situation and scored important points. We’re going to learn from this race for the Lausitzring. On the whole, it was a tremendous opening round for the DTM in front of a fantastic crowd with a turbulent early phase. And it was obvious that overtaking is definitely possible in the new DTM.”
The Audi squad will not have time to take a deep breath after the season opener as the next DTM race is on the calendar for next weekend. That is why the teams are traveling directly from Hockenheim to the Lausitzring.
Quotes after the race at Hockenheim
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “On the whole, it was a fabulous start for the new DTM in front of a great crowd. All three manufacturers put all their cars on the grid under extreme time pressure. The cars functioned well and were very close together in terms of performance.
It was nice that we were able to decide the new DTM’s first qualifying event with Mattias Ekström’s pole position. Naturally, we wanted to convert that into victory as well. Yet we were lacking the race performance to do so today. Now it’s our task to do everything we can so that we won’t be able to only show a perfect performance in qualifying but also in the race at the Lausitzring.” Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), 3rd place “It’s always nice to be on podium.
Our aim today was to be at the very top. Unfortunately, we only managed third place. ‘Well done’ to Mercedes and Gary (Paffett) and Jamie (Green), they were quicker today. We need to analyse what went wrong and then we’ll have a good chance of striking back.” Mike Rockenfeller (Schaeffler Audi A5 DTM), 5th place “The race was very strenuous, I had a good start. After that, I was struggling because we’d changed the brake beforehand and tyre pressure was a bit low. I had to let (Gary) Paffett pass at the start. Then I was running on position five and drove a similar pace as Mattias Ekström. We had two good pit stops. At the end of the race I had to let Christian Vietoris pass. He was too quick for me and I wanted to score points today at all cost.”
Miguel Molina (Red Bull Audi A5 DTM), 9th place “It was a good race for me. I started from a difficult position, 17th place, and scored points for ninth place nonetheless. That was positive. The team had a good strategy. My speed in the race was good and I scored two points. That was a good start into the season after qualifying had not gone so well.” Filipe Albuquerque (TV Movie Audi A5 DTM), 10th place “My start from position 14 was great.
With all the incidents that happened I was fortunate. My speed was good. When the track was clear I was able to set good times. At the second pit stop I lost four positions. Then, in traffic, I was not able to overtake Ralf Schumacher and Miguel Molina. Sixth place would have been possible but at least there’s one point for tenth place.” Edoardo Mortara (Playboy Audi A5 DTM), 11th place “For me, it was a difficult race.
I had a brilliant start and a good rhythm but unfortunately we weren’t able to overtake the others. My team gave everything. There were a few incidents of body contact. I received a drive-through penalty for the collision with Joey Hand. That was a bit strange. But next week at the Lausitzring we want to be strong. We showed that we’re among the best in the Audi squad.” Rahel Frey (E-POSTBRIEF Audi A5 DTM), 16th “A race begins with the start and if you can’t see the starting lights then that’s bad to begin with. My race engineer in that situation just screamed: go, go.
The race itself was okay then. My team did a superb job and we also had a superb strategy. From position 22 we advanced all the way to 13 in between. Unfortunately, I lost the car in the hairpin and dropped to 17th place. Compared to practice and qualifying the race was definitely an improvement.” Timo Scheider (AUTO TEST Audi A5 DTM), retirement “I had a normal start, managed to run alongside Priaulx in turn one, who didn’t leave a lot of room for me, so I had to give in. In turn three, I had recovered a few positions, was almost around the corner when I felt an impact and was turned around. On the first lap that was very frustrating.
After running as the last car in the field I managed to advance to 14th place. Then I overtook Roberto Mehri under braking and he hit my car. After that the car was so heavily damaged that it made no more sense to keep on driving.” Adrien Tambay (Audi ultra A5 DTM), retirement “That was really a shame. I had a good start in my first DTM race. I was already in eighth place. On lap one everything was going really well and I was shooting for seventh place. But then an accident happened in front of me and there was a lot of commotion.
I was right in the middle of a sandwich. There was nothing I could do to avoid that. My car was damaged and I was forced to retire. Still, I take positive stock of my first DTM weekend and am already looking forward to the Lausitzring.” Hans-Jürgen Abt (Team Director Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “It was a turbulent opening round. You could see that we’ve got to improve some more across the whole race distance.
As the best Audi team, we’re very pleased with Mattias Ekström’s performance, he fully used the potential. We haven’t got a lot of time to think about it as we’ve got to prepare for the Lausitzring now. But I do want to thank the team. Everyone worked hard and made no mistakes.” Ernst Moser (Team Director Audi Sport Team Phoenix): “Miguel Molina advanced from 17th place to ninth and found his race speed. Unfortunately, he drove a bit too far at the pit stop and had to let David Coulthard pass. Otherwise he would have finished one or two places farther at the front. Mike Rockenfeller drove brilliantly but we simply didn’t have the speed to keep up with the Mercedes cars.
We had to defend ourselves and need to stop that for the Lausitzring.” Arno Zensen (Team Director Audi Sport Team Rosberg): “Edo (Mortara) had a very good speed at first but then hit traffic after his first stop – the action with the blue flags didn’t work out at all. He lost a lot and dropped behind ‘Rocky.’ After the stop-and-go penalty for turning (Joey) Hand around his race was over. Filipe (Albuquerque) had a good speed and was well on his way toward the front but unfortunately our pit stop didn’t work out at all. I can only say ‘sorry’ for that. Sixth place would have been possible today as a minimum.”