The final stages of preparation are underway, as the DTM began the first of two official 4-day ITR tests at the famed Hungaroring, with all twenty-three drivers on hand to either watch their teammates in action, or get some welcome miles under their belts.
New liveries were unveiled, as Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s Jamie Green will be driving in the new Hoffman Group-sponsored RS5 DTM, as well as the remaining BMW M4 DTMs that would be racing this season. But the first day back at school saw Spain’s Miguel Molina lead the way on the time sheets ahead of Green, who was quickest in the morning. Adrien Tambay and the defending champion, Mike Rockenfeller rounded out the top four.
2012 Champion, Bruno Spengler was the leading BMW driver in fifth, with newcomers Maxime Martin and Antonio Felix da Costa ahead of the returning Joey Hand, who comes back for his third year in a championship where he has shown consistent improvement.
F1 refugee and 2010 Champion Paul di Resta was back behind the wheel of a Mercedes, as he was ahead of 2005 Champion Gary Paffett and the “new boy,” Russia’s Vitaly Petrov. The session was brought to a premature end, as the track’s surface caused issues for all concerned, which has meant that the teams will be able to test for a further hour tomorrow and Wednesday.
The Spaniard, who returns to Abt Sportsline, felt that it was good to be back behind the wheel after what is traditionally one of the longest off-seasons on any motorsport calendar, and felt right back at home: “Audi Sport did a great job developing the new Audi RS 5 DTM: the new car feels great right from the start and the Hungaroring seems to suit it well. It goes without saying that we still have got a lot to learn.”
Spengler did the most mileage of the day, covering 109 laps, as he too shared the same sentiments as Molina on behind back behind the wheel. The Franco-Canadian took to the track in the “Black Beast,” and suffered no technical issues as he got to grips with the new car and one of the new tracks on the calendar for this year: “That’s a solid result. We definitely are on the way in the right direction. I truly enjoyed being back in the car – particularly at this great circuit. It offers absolutely everything and the mix of corners is very interesting. As driver, you have to work at the wheel all the time. When you’re back working closely together with the team, after the off-season, you quickly get back in the racing mode.”
The Scot, who resumes his career in the DTM once again, took the time to get used to the new car that sports the very same livery that he had during his title winning season. The first steps for all at Mercedes, including Paffett, are not really much to take into consideration, when some of the drivers are either returning to somewhat familiar ground, or are experiencing it for the very first time.
Di Resta, who was over 1.5 seconds slower than Molina, was the best of the Mercedes drivers, but they seemed to be following a strategic plan to get their new 2014-spec cars up to speed, according to the former Forcer India driver: “Generally I think we were walking through the program, trying to make sure we could learn a bit more about the car. Unfortunately it stopped two hours earlier as scheduled on Monday. Tomorrow we obviously will be busy and try to optimize the new package as much as we can.”
Just because the times may be three seconds between all eleven drivers on the first day of testing, it isn’t really giving a clear indication on just who have made the biggest leaps forward, when it comes to the performance and lap time aspects, as there will be many different situations that the teams will be working out over the forthcoming three days here, before Hockenheim beckons…
Tomorrow sees the following drivers get some running as the first official ITR test continues on day two:
Mercedes-Benz: Paffett, Di Resta, Wehrlein and Juncadella.
Audi Sport: Ekstrom, Mortara, Scheider and Muller.
BMW: Hand, Martin, Da Costa and Spengler.