The last of pre-season testing has now drawn to a close at the 4,570 km long Lausitzring in East-Germany – the last chance for the teams to test their new machinery. Read on to learn what happened and find out which driver will complete the 2019 roster.
Audi’s dominance was already evident by the end of day one. We had all three at the top, with the best time of the day coming from Mike Rockenfeller. The cars look significantly quicker – Rockenfeller’s lap time of 1.35.190 is already over 2 seconds faster than Lucas Auer’s pole time from last year. The best BMW on Monday was Bruno Spengler eight tenths behind, while newcomers Aston Martin managed a best finish of 7th thanks to Ferdinand Habsburg. His best time of the day was a 1.36.503.
On Tuesday, Audi topped the timesheets again. Aston Martin made up some ground to take 4th and 5th place, while BMW suffered technical problems which meant they couldn’t run much during the day. Spengler couldn’t even drive a single lap, Joel Eriksson managed only 14, while rookie Sheldon van der Linde absolved a good 116 laps. His best time of the day was a 1.37.292 which put him in 7th place.
We also saw a new face on track – Pietro Fittipaldi, testing for WRT Team Audi Sport. At this point, Audi hadn’t confirmed Fittipaldi as a full-time driver for the customer team – that announcement came Thursday morning. The 22-year-old Brazilian joins 21-year-old Jonathan Aberdein, who got confirmed earlier in March.
“I want to thank Team WRT and Audi Sport for their support and trust, which are allowing me to join an exciting series such as the DTM. It’s probably one of the most competitive series in the world, and I can’t think of a more exciting challenge”.
“It was my first time in Lausitz and my first time with the Audi RS 5 DTM, which is different from anything I have driven so far. The sessions were very useful to familiarise with the car and start exploring the limits.”
On Wednesday the best time of the day was for Dutch Audi Sport driver Robin Frijns, with fellow Audi drivers Rene Rast and Rockenfeller in 2nd and 3rd place. Most laps of the day were driven by BMW’s Joel Eriksson – 134, making up for Tuesday’s lack of running. Paul di Resta also put in the miles in his Aston Martin, clocking up just over 100 laps.
Thursday gave Audi and BMW a final opportunity to test their cars before the season starts, though Aston Martin has obtained permission to test their cars a bit further, having only gotten their new car out on track last month and therefore missed out on three days.
No different than the days before, Audi ended up on top of the times. As always, we cannot read too much into testing results, but for now, it’s looking good for the Ingolstadt-based brand.
“We’re generally very content, and we’ve learned a lot.” Said Dieter Gass, Audi’s Motorsport Chief. “Obviously, the results should not be overrated. Experience has shown that no-one puts all their cards on the table in pre-season testing. Even so, it’s nice to see all your cars at the top of the time sheets.”
“Due to the modified cars and the new turbo engines we had slightly more work than we normally do before a season, but we can still be happy overall. We’ll only know at Hockenheim where we truly stand. It’s going to be extremely exciting.”
Despite technical issues hampering the team during the test, BMW still put in a good showing.
“That was a very intense final test for our teams and drivers”, said BMW’s Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt. “A big thank-you to our mechanics and engineers who have worked long and hard throughout this tough week of running.”
“So much of these 2019 cars is completely new, and we’re gaining experience with every lap we get under our belts. The first two days didn’t go exactly as planned, but the entire team – including the drivers – rallied hard and refused to let it unsettle them.”
“Now we head to Hockenheim. As always, those first qualifying sessions and races will give us a true indication of where we are.”
And finally, the British manufacturer is ready for the season start as well. They had a lot of catching up to do, but they can look back on a positive and informative week without any significant problems.
“During the four test days at the Lausitzring, the many long runs amounting to a total of 3,610.3 kilometres provided us with valuable insights for the further development of our Aston Martin Vantage DTM.” Said Dr Florian Kamelger, Team Principal of R-Motorsport. “As usual in such tests, we were able to identify and eliminate a few faults. We are very satisfied with the consistency in lap times we have achieved, bearing in mind that weren’t attempting to set fast times.”
The overall fastest time this week was set by Audi Sport driver Robin Frijns. Best placed BMW was Joel Eriksson in sixth place. Audi’s customer team WRT impressed with a 9th and 11th place for their drivers. Fastest Aston Martin R-Motorsport driver of the week was Jake Dennis in 14th place. In total, the drivers put in a collective total of 3921 laps across the four days.
So, with testing all wrapped up, we can look forward to an exciting and possibly the fastest DTM ever. The teams and drivers must wait only one more week until the first round at the historic Hockenheimring.