Ogier’s DTM debut with ups and downs
DTM guest driver Sébastien Ogier had a really eventful weekend at Spielberg. In the qualifying sessions and the races at the Red Bull Ring, the French had to cope with mixed emotions. On the one hand he encountered mishaps, slip-ups and bad luck but on the other he also experienced successful moments. The weekend in Styria: a DTM crash course for the 34-year old. Later, Ogier talked with a broad grin on his face about his rollercoaster ride in front of the impressive panorama.
“I was aware as early as in the run-up to the event that I would have to face a difficult weekend. I didn’t come here to secure a good result. It was a great opportunity for me to race one of these high-tech vehicles in this extremely competitive series. The changeable weather conditions made my life even more difficult. Due to my limited experience, taking the car to the limit in these conditions was a really tough task. Mercedes-AMG still had a lot to fight for and therefore, it was logical that I wasn’t at the top of their priority list. Nonetheless, I improved throughout the weekend and am proud of me,” Ogier said after the weekend. But he would have loved to be involved in more battles. “I always started into the races from the last position on the starting grid.”
Different series, different regulations: While the cars are weighed with their drivers, in the World Rally Championship, the DTM drivers have to step onto personal scales, after the sessions. Ignorance of the regulations is no excuse and so, Ogier’s staying away from the weighing after the Saturday qualifying session had consequences: his qualifying times were disallowed – but he was granted the permission to contest the race, nevertheless. In the race he spun on the cold tyres after the obligatory pit stop. “My pace in the early stages wasn’t good. After the stop I had better tyres and I finally had somebody else driving ahead of me. So I thought to myself: ‘Now it’s fighting time!’ But my tyres still were somewhat too cold and I pushed too early.” Later, in a safety-car period, Ogier closed in on the rest of the field and all of a sudden he was driving next to Gary Paffett. “Therefore, the final laps were really exciting for me. He still is fighting for the title and so, there was nothing I could do.” In the end, the French secured a really respectable result by finishing 12th.
Wipers yes, screen-wash water no
The following day turned out to be just as tumultuous for Ogier. In the qualifying session on the drying track he was just 248 thousandths slower than compatriot Loïc Duval in his Audi. Ogier was already surprised prior to the start. “I was told that I would be the radio car but short before the start I was informed that this wouldn’t be the case. In the end, I raced in the same conditions as the others.” And he could enjoy a wheel-to-wheel battle for 15th position with Augusto Farfus. When the Brazilian went off in the exciting battle Ogier was booked by the race control. But this wasn’t the end of the drama. “I passed Farfus who apparently had a problem and lost oil. My windscreen was covered with it and I activated the windscreen wipers but they made the situation worse instead of better. I didn’t know if we had windscreen-wash water in the car but obviously we hadn’t. And the team couldn’t call me in as the stops of the other Mercedes-AMG drivers had priority,” revealed Ogier who consequently had to continue flying blind until he finally pitted and the windscreen film could be ripped off. “That was disappointing,” admitted Ogier who had to settle for finishing 16th.
From now on Ogier again will fully focus the World Rally Championship. Nonetheless, he doesn’t fully rule out the possibility of a DTM comeback. “You never know what the future will bring. My guest appearance offered me the opportunity to get a first impression of DTM and demonstrate my potential. It would be a long way to competitiveness but who knows if I won’t switch to DTM one day to start a road-racing career.