“We are really hot”
Spirits were upbeat and they were really eager. Timo Glock (BMW), Mattias Ekström (Audi) and Pascal Wehrlein (Mercedes-Benz) answered questions from journalists during the first DTM press conference of the 2015 season. There was one thing the three drivers had in common on Friday afternoon: the desire to finally take on their colleagues at the Hockenheimring. This weekend, the new regulations give them plenty of possibilities to do so.
“We are really hot,” Glock said with a wide grin on his face. “The new format promises plenty of excitement.” Two races on a weekend: the BMW driver is not the only one who really likes this. “We are here to race. That is what we want. I really prefer having two races than all the waiting for the race on Sunday like we had in previous years,” Ekström said. According to a survey among the drivers, the Swede is the favourite for this year’s title. “I am happy about that. However, I know every one of my opponents really well, they are all pretty shrewd.”
One of them is Pascal Wehrlein who, next to his commitment in the DTM, is also involved in Formula 1 with Mercedes-Benz. Wehrlein: “For me, DTM has priority, there is no doubt about that. Both series have something special, but I like the duels in the DTM. There, you can really drive with contact.”
None of the three drivers believe that the drivers will be backing off in the race on Saturday in order to save their cars for the Sunday. “Of course, you have to look after your car, but there is no way in which I will back off,” Glock promised. Ekström put it even more clearly: “My truck is full of spare parts. I will be giving everything, nobody needs to worry. And when, all of a sudden, a bonnet should be missing on a road-going car, then my spare parts simply weren’t enough.”
The weather conditions could spice up the action. When track conditions during a race change from wet to dry, or the other way round, this will offer the teams additional tactical options, at least in the race on Sunday. “There, of course, the tyre choice will be playing a major role. It will be thrilling to see how the teams will differ,” Wehrlein said. In the first race of 40 minutes on Saturday, the drivers don’t have to make a mandatory pit stop. On Sunday, it is a different affair: in the 60 minutes’ race, the tyres have to be changed once. This season, option tyres are no longer being used.
The first two races at the Hockenheimring will give no more than an indication as far as the title is concerned. After this weekend, there are still 16 races to run. “The season is long. Because of the race, bad results can be made up for,” Ekström sums op. “At the end of the day, that could perhaps be a little advantage for the old hands.” And with 143 DTM races and the 2004 and 2008 DTM titles under his belt, experience is something Ekström certainly isn’t lacking…