It has been an up-and-down season for many drivers, when the racing began at Hockenheim, but there was one of the 22 drivers that started the year on the right track, picking up the first win of the race calendar, showing a great continuation of form from last year.
That man was Brazil’s very own Augusto Farfus, who last year, stormed to pole position at Valencia and Hockenheim, as well as picking up a historic first win for a Brazilian driver in the DTM, helping him become “Rookie of the Year.” The 29-year-old father of one is a passionate and emotional individual, who pushes and gives his all on track every time, whenever the race helmet goes on and the lights go out.
He has also had some good pace, but the luck for the Team RBM driver, who partners Joey Hand this season, has not been that great tot say the very least, as his charge at the front of the Brands Hatch round saw an electrical failure snatch another podium from his grasp. Following on from that, he scored a welcomed P6 at the Red Bull Ring, but results at Lausitzring and Norisring weren’t that great, placing outside the top ten in P12 and P15 respectively.
He may be placed 7th overall in the standings but there are still 5 races left to run for all the drivers in such an unpredictable series so far, but it was a pleasure for Augusto to kindly take the time to speak to us here at TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, and answer some questions about how the DTM has been changed for the better, new family members coming on board at Munich, and much more.
Firstly, testing was a major way for the drivers to make good their intentions for the new season, especially with the cars being optimized for the 2013 season. We asked Augusto how much the optimization has helped with the understanding of setting up the M3 DTM this year. He said that it clearly helped going into the new season, but testing was a welcome help for several reasons: “We tested in different conditions throughout the winter and for the pre-season testing this year we had a lot of rain as well. It was not the optimum set of conditions, as it gave all of us no continuity, but it was able to help us by practicing different situations.”
The weekends are shorter and more demanding on all the drivers, as Farfus said that the challenge to set up the car right at race weekends will normally take place in colder conditions early on the Saturday for Free Practice, before the cars are held in Parc Ferme. He explains just how much of a demand there is on everyone to perform: “Qualifying always takes place in the heat of the day, which means that all communication with the engineers is crucial to help speed up the process. Getting a good set-up at the start helps a lot in free practice, as changes to a DTM car always take a long time and it is not possible to do everything in the limited time we have for free practice”
Strategy is coming ever more into the series, especially with the addition of DRS and the Hankook Option tyres being a potential factor that aides the excitement for all concerned. Augusto explained that the new changes to the cars do not really change the way that the cars feel: “To have a strong weekend, all you need is a really good race pace. Actually with all these new technical changes, you can pass other cars and this allows you to move on and keep to your race strategy.”
He then went on to explain about the fact that tyre management is also a key point for trying to maximize the potential results, especially when it comes to looking after the Option tyres, which seems to be the way to go to make them last as long as possible: “If then you have a good strategy and don’t react quickly enough, especially when there is a safety car situation, this can definitely turn your race upside down. It’s not always easy for the spectators to understand just what is happening, but I personally feel that the races this season in the DTM are a lot more entertaining that in 2012.”
Every driver these days has a highlight of a season, especially as this season has been clearly unpredictable from the very beginning, so Farfus’ response was a very open-minded one: “Honestly, I enjoy every race, especially as every race is full of surprises, especially with the DRS and option tyres. The Parc Ferme rule has also added excitement, as you never quite know what will happen during the race. BMW is a very close family, as everyone wants to do the best they can for Munich.”
This year, Timo Glock and Marco Wittmann became the new part of the BMW “brood,” who expanded their ranks with Team MTEK, run by ex-F1 engine maestro, Ernst Knoors. Augusto and all the other drivers were more than happy for the new additions to join a very steady ship: “They fitted in very well from the beginning. I know Timo from his time with BMW as a test driver, as well as Marco being a part of the project last year. Both are really nice guys, hard racers, as well as being a fantastic addition to our team!”
As mentioned previously, Augusto is a devoted father and husband, with Liri and Victoria being a real big part of his life both on and off the track, as they have been there all the way to support the former-WTCC driver, no matter the highs and the lows of the high-pressure, full-throttle environment of the racing world.
Augusto even took Liri for a drive she would never forget, as the Curitiba native drove a BMW M3 around the iconic Nordschleife, reassuring his wife that it was all going to be ok. But aside from the antics on track, if he has a bad day at the ‘office,’ there are always the lovely ladies in his life to help keep him grounded, as the journey has been long, but the support has always been there: “Liri was part of my life 10 years ago, when I was still fighting for a place in a good championship. Since Victoria arrived, I really feel complete, both at the racetrack and away from it. There is no better way to recover from a bad day at the office, than spend an afternoon with my family. We celebrate together and we cry together, as we are a very united family.”
Moscow Speedway is the scene for new territory for the 22-strong field in less than a fortnight, who will venture into unchartered waters, as all will have to learn all the aspects of the 3.7km track. This is a daunting challenge, but an exciting one nevertheless, as Augusto is looking forward to all the antics for the forthcoming race weekend: “It really feels great! During my time in the WTCC with BMW, we often went to new territories and had to learn a lot of new tracks on a regular basis. I can’t wait to show to Russian fans just how great the DTM cars are!”
Farfus also looks forward to the remaining tracks on the calendar, especially with Hockenheim being somewhat of a special place for him, having been on the podium last year and picking up his second DTM career victory in May this year. Curitiba’s “Lucky Boy” sums it all up in one sentence just where he hopes to be at the end of the year: “Hopefully by that time, I will have managed to be further up in the standings!”
So, as we enter the start of the second half of the season in Mother Russia, Farfus is one to keep an eye on, as he looks to be one to make his way back up the order. We’d like to thank Augusto for taking the time to speak to us here at TCF, and wish both him and his teammate Joey Hand the very best of luck this year in what has been a great season so far, which only looks set to get better.