The DTM heads to Hungary this weekend with two runaway leaders in the title race, Timo Glock and Gary Paffett. The BMW and Mercedes drivers are separated by just one point at the top of the championship table ahead of a bumper weekend of action at the Hungaroring. Here’s what to look out for across the course of the weekend.
Can Rene Rast Bounce Back?
Rene Rast suffered a horrific crash during race one last time out at EuroSpeedway Lausitz. In over seven years watching the DTM I’ve seen a fair few large crashes with bits of bodywork and car flying everywhere and visually, Rast’s was up there with the worst of them. For anyone who hasn’t seen the well-publicised all over Twitter and the motorsport news sites, you can watch it again below.
The Hungaroring was the scene of Rene Rast’s first DTM victory in race two last season, in his spectacular rookie year where he went on to win the title at the first time of asking. This year, after a tough start to the season for Audi, Rast lies in 13th in the championship table following a weekend where he scored points last time out at the Lausitzring. Rast wouldn’t take part in race two following the accident in race one.
Will Audi’s Struggles Continue?
There can be no doubt that the team most affected by the new for 2018 aerodynamic packages is Audi. Last season’s runaway manufacturers and drivers champions are suffering a torrid start to 2018 after the aerodynamic strength of last years Rs5 DTM was neutralised by changes aimed at reducing the number of aero parts on the cars for this year. Audi secured a lockout of the top four positions in the driver’s championship in 2017, but two rounds into 2018 and their highest driver in the table, Mike Rockenfeller sits in 10th.
The Ingolstadt marque also sits last in the manufacturer’s championship table, 112 points off Mercedes in 2nd. As the only manufacturer yet to win a race this year, the pressure is on Audi to at least add to their tally of just one podium finish this season. They were strong last year in Hungary, but I think they could struggle again.
Will Glock and Paffett Continue To Pull Away?
After just four races, Timo Glock and Gary Paffett are locked in a tight battle at the head of the championship table. Just one point separates the Deutsche Post BMW of Glock in 1st and the Mercedes Me C63 DTM of Paffett in 2nd, with both drivers finishing on the podium 3 out of a possible 4 times so far in 2018. Paffett has historically never excelled at the Hungaroring, finishing in the points on just 2 out of 5 occasions he has yet to visit the podium. He finished 7th and 9th in the weekend’s two races last year.
Glock is enjoying his best DTM season to date and after a thrilling duel with Paffett in race two at Hockenheim went on to score a 2nd a 5th last time out at the Lausitzring. The ex-Toyota F1 driver finished 2nd and 7th last year in Hungary and is my pick for the podium again this weekend. I think the Hungaroring will suit the BMW M4 and I’m eager to see how the team fares as they look to narrow Mercedes’ 68 point lead at the top of the manufacturer’s table.
Will Mercedes’ Go Out As Champions
Based on early season form, Mercedes are the team to beat. With the team occupying 5 out of the top 6 spots in the driver’s table and sitting 68 points clear at the top of the manufacturer’s table I think we’re in for a titanic battle between Mercedes and BMW this weekend. Pascal Werhlein has impressed on his return to the DTM, and with Mortara fresh from scoring his first DTM race victory for Mercedes last time out I fully expect to see Mercedes dominating the top ten once again.
2017’s Hungaroring race winner Paul Di Resta has yet to visit the podium in 2018 but has been a measure of consistency with his race finishes reading 7th, 9th, 6th and 4th so far this year. It’s surely only a matter of time before the 2010 drivers champion picks up his first win of 2018.
What the Teams Say
“After three victories in four races, we are obviously mega pleased with our start to the season. We couldn’t have wished for a better one. However, we’re still at an early stage of the campaign. So far, we have competed at Hockenheim and at the Lausitzring which are two tracks that have very much favoured us in recent years. Now we’re off to the Hungaroring which has not been a particularly good place for us recently. Consequently, we have to wait and see how the teams measure up to each other in Budapest. Naturally, we aim to be successful there as well. With five of our squad in the Top Six of the championship, we have delivered a strong team performance so far. We intend to build on that in Hungary.”
Ulrich Fritz, Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM:
“I learned an enormous lot, in the races so far. I advanced to DTM from single-seater racing and therefore, I’m not accustomed to races where the cars may touch one another. In single-seater racing, this kind of close encounters resulted right away in broken front wings or similar damages. In DTM, however, these kinds of slight contacts aren’t a problem. I have only fond memories of the Hungaroring. It’s one of my absolute favourite circuits. And I also like the city. Last year in Formula 3, I made it to the pole and also celebrated a race win.”
Joel Eriksson, BMW Team RBM
“The Hungaroring in Budapest has been one of my favourite tracks not only since my first DTM victory in 2017.” Rene Rast’s chassis which he crashed out so heavily in at the Lausitzring remains the same, “but everything else is completely new. Every single cable tie was replaced. Even the steering wheel, the pedals, the safety harness – everything has been changed, and the engine too,” explained Rast.
Rene Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg
Friday 1st of June
16:05: Free Practice 1
Saturday 2nd of June
8:35 – Free Practice 2
11:20 – Qualifying for Race 1
13:30 – Race 1 (55 minutes plus one lap)
Sunday 3rd of June
8:30 – Free Practice 3
11:20 – Qualifying for Race 2
13:30 – Race 2 (55 minutes plus one lap)