The start of the 2018 DTM Series is a step closer after the opening day of the second pre-season test at the Hockenheimring.
Marco Wittmann ended the day quickest ahead of Audi duo Nico Müller and Mike Rockenfeller.
Wittmann also completed the most amount of laps for the day with 131 as he got to grips with his new BMW M4 DTM.
One of the drivers taking part in test was series returnee, and 2015 champion, Pascal Wehrlein who joined 2017 champion René Rast and BMW’s Timo Glock in a press call.
“For me, it is a little bit like coming home. Compared to the past, I didn’t notice any major changes in the car,” said Wehrlein. “The biggest change for me will be to deal with the tyres without tyre warmers. When the car enables me to do so, I want to continue at the point where I left off in 2015.”
Wehrlein also took to the track in his Mercedes for the morning session, ending the day eighth fastest having completed 54 laps as he reacquainted himself with the series that he left in 2015.
Reigning champion Rast will get behind the wheel for the first time on Tuesday, and is looking forward to his title defence.
“The field will be even closer together. The right steps to achieve this have been made,” the Audi driver said referring to the reduced downforce of the cars. “My first year as a rookie really went surprisingly well for me. At the beginning of the season, I hoped to score one point at all. Now, I know that I am in a position to be a contender up front. I am very relaxed.”
Having spent the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit commentating on the Formula One for RTL, a jet lagged Glock joined the duo in the press call after arriving in Germany early Monday morning.
“I am saying this every year. In fact, I can play a tape. I will never say in the DTM that I will be a contender for the title this year,” said Glock. “It is the small things that matter, everything is so closely together. Last year was my strongest so far, that is a fact.”
Glock too will return to the cockpit on Tuesday as day two of the Hockenheim test gets underway.
Since the last test at Vallelunga a few changes have been made.
Loïc Duval is to compete under the number 28, which he originally wished to race with, rather than the 77.
The #77 did not bring much luck for the Frenchman who ended 2017 with just 22 points to his name after a second place in Zandvoort and eighth in Spielberg.
As well, Audi Sport ABT will not be continuing in the Audi TT Cup due to an insufficient grid size.
“We regret that Abt Sportsline had to abandon its plan. However, the DTM fans will not have a lack of motorsport action in the support series as a result. With Formula 3, Formula 4 or the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup, we already have an attractive and varied programme. And we are working hard to find a replacement to fill the slots that have become vacant,” managing director of ITR, Achim Kostron said.
Robin Frijns takes to the track for Audi alongside Duval and Rast for day two of the test. For BMW, Glock will be joined by rookies Philipp Eng and Joel Eriksson, who fill the seats vacated by Tom Blomqvist and Maxime Martin. DTM veteran Gary Paffett remains in the cockpit of his Mercedes, as does Edoardo Mortara. Paul di Resta will run in the morning session with series returnee Dani Juncadella taking over in the afternoon.
The morning session begins at 9.00 local time and lasts until 12.00 with the afternoon session getting underway at 14.00 with the day coming to a close at 18.00.