Suggestion of the ex-champions: No changes!
Bruno Spengler, Mike Rockenfeller and Pascal Wehrlein have got something in common: all the three drivers already succeeded in winning the DTM Drivers’ Championship. Therefore, they can comprehend the situation René Rast, Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta are in prior to the season finale. How do you feel on the way to such a close finish? How does a driver prepare for the most important races of the season? “You don’t change a lot. You try to think from race to race while blocking out the rest,” says Mike Rockenfeller, Audi driver like René Rast and 2013 DTM Champion. “You do your job as well as you can. But you also are aware of the fact that you mustn’t make any mistakes. At the same time, you use one of your eyes for peering hard at your main rivals. Of course you have got hopes and expectations. To be in this position is the reason why we are racing drivers. To a certain extent, motor racing is unpredictable. And that’s why being a racing driver is such a great job.”
Spengler: “A lot of pressure but it also is fun”
In 2013, ‘Rocky’ was the successor of Bruno Spengler on the DTM throne. The Canadian switched from Mercedes-AMG to BMW for 2012, the comeback season of the Munich based manufacturer, and won the title right away. “I didn’t alter anything. You don’t prepare for the races on the final two days prior to the race meeting but in winter. Of course you know that the coming weekend will be the crucial one. You have to cope with a lot of pressure but being in this situation also is big fun. After all, you wouldn’t be there if your season hadn’t been very good, to date. And that’s great, isn’t it? But in the end, only one driver can be the winner.”
In 2016, Pascal Wehrlein switched from DTM to Formula One as reigning champion but this year he made his DTM comeback for Mercedes-AMG. “I travelled to Hockenheim with a reassuring lead, that year [2015, editor’s note]. You absolutely mustn’t think: ‘You just have to bring it home.’ It goes without saying that you also keep an eye on your rivals and make comparisons. But first of all it’s about squeezing the maximum out of yourself and your car. My motto was: I want to extend my lead. Fortunately I succeeded in already winning the title on Saturday.”
The drivers hope for a showdown on Sunday
Nobody hopes that this also will be the case this weekend at Hockenheim. All the drivers want excitement up to the final lap on Sunday. At the same time, they aren’t ready to predict the new champion. “Nobody knows. All the three could win the title and would deserve to do so. Nonetheless, I think that a Mercedes-AMG driver will make it. Their chances look bright while securing the title will be rather difficult for Audi. And as I have known Gary for a long time I’d be happy if he made it,” says Rockenfeller. Di Resta holds the championship lead with 229 points on his tally, four more than Paffett and 30 more than Rast. “It would be great if one of my two team-mates will make it, in the end. At the same time I hope for the fans that the fight for the title will be taken down to the Sunday race. To be honest, I don’t mind which of the two Mercedes-AMG drivers will clinch the title. May the better man win,” reveals Mercedes-AMG driver Wehrlein. BMW’s Spengler also backs off when it comes to making predictions. “I hope for a thrilling showdown on Sunday and that René still will be a factor in the battle for the title. That would be the best for all those involved. Let’s just wait and see what will happen.”
According to the drivers, there’s going to be a reshuffle following the Saturday qualifying session as it will provide first hints. The result will be of particular importance for the Mercedes-AMG pairing. “The qualifying is extremely important. The pressure is high why all the others just can go for it. That’s what you have to focus on. Afterwards you will have a better overview of the situation,” says Rockenfeller and Wehrlein adds: “At the beginning it’s full speed ahead for everybody. After the Saturday qualifying session one will see which strategy a driver will opt for or which other driver he will race for. Prior the weekend you can’t plan which driver you will support in the fight for the title. Such an approach never works. After all, it also could happen that they both are in a poor position and that we have to focus on stealing as may points from René as possible.”
Wehrlein doesn’t regard DTM as his future
Wehrlein also had something to say about his future. Following the already announced Mercedes-AMG retirement from the series, the DTM returnee’s comeback apparently won’t be more than a one-year intermezzo. “Nothing has been signed yet but I have got several good offers and just have to make up my mind. But I most probably won’t opt for DTM. I will race in one series but also could compete in two.”
The DTM season finale live on TV
Both rounds of the DTM season finale will be covered live by the series’ German TV partner SAT 1 from the first to the final lap in the station’s programme ‘ran racing’. The Sat. 1 coverage will begin on both days at 13:00hrs CEST. In Austria, ORF eins will cover both races from 13:15 CEST and in Switzerland, the motor-racing enthusiasts can watch the DTM race action courtesy of MySports. The races will be started as usual at 13:30hrs CEST (12:30 BST). Furthermore, all the practice and qualifying sessions as well as the races will be streamed live at DTM.com and the official DTM App. Tickets for the DTM season finale can be purchased at the official website at www.DTM.com/tickets.