Ferdinand Habsburg (AUT) leaves the penultimate round of the 2019 DTM season on a high after finishing just outside the points in Saturday’s race and setting the pace of the R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage DTM cars in Sunday morning’s qualifying.
The eighth round of the championship took place at the Nürburgring under the stunning September sunshine and with tens of thousands of fans watching on. And, despite having a five-place grid penalty for race one, the young Austrian was in good spirits.
“Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of this track itself but the Nürburgring has such an awesome atmosphere so you can’t help but buzz a bit when you are here,” said the Greenstorm-sponsored driver. “With the sun shining and the fans enjoying the paddock entertainment, I felt good going into the first qualifying session.”
Despite feeling good, Habsburg and his team opted not to set a qualifying lap time. A five-place grid penalty awarded at the Lausitzring meant it made more sense to save tyres for the race than try for a lap. The plan worked and, after starting from the back of the grid, he pushed hard to finish in twelfth, the second highest result of the Aston Martin Vantage DTM cars and just behind team-mate Dani Juncadella.
“Although I think we are closing the gap on the Audis and BMWs, the truth is that we are really just competing against ourselves at the moment,” he continued. “I have three very quick and experienced team-mates to benchmark myself against and I’m pleased that I’m in the mix with them.”
In fact, on Sunday morning in his first DTM qualifying on the Nürburgring, Habsburg did more than just mix with his team-mates; he set the pace of the Aston Martins to qualify in fifteenth place. Throughout the race he led the R-Motorsport pack and put pressure on the BMWs ahead. After running in thirteeth for most of the race, he unfortunately lost places to his team-mates on the final few laps and crossed the line in his qualifying position.
“That was a fun race!” he said as he stepped out of the car. “Although it was hard, I really enjoyed clinging on to the back of the BMWs. It’s shame to let Jake [Dennis] past on the final lap but there were no points on the table anyway, so it was not worth risking damage to the car by battling back.
“If we can take this momentum into the final round of the season in a few weeks’ time, we’ll have come a long way this season. Sometimes it’s hard to recognise how far you’ve come when you are in the thick of it and constantly trying to improve but I think the team can be really pleased with how much we have closed the gap through pure determination.”
“I’d like to congratulate Audi and Rene Rast for the championship win,” the AVL Racing-supported driver concluded. “They have certainly set the bar high this season.”
The final round of the DTM championship takes place at Hockenheim on 5/6 October.