After once again qualifying on the front row on Saturday, Habsburg was determined to convert it to a podium. Starting alongside Rene Rast, he planned to get a good start and follow the current DTM champion, aiming to learn as much as he could along the way.
Before race one, the REMUS-sponsored racer said: “I think Rene is somebody who you can really learn a lot from, and I look forward to doing that today. If I’m ahead or behind him either way I’m going to try to soak in everything I can from such an experienced driver, somebody I’ve always looked up to, and now to be next to him on the grid, it gives a lot of excitement and a very satisfactory feeling, so I’m hoping for a really exciting race.”
Despite being passed by Audi factory driver and previous race-winner Robin Frijns, Habsburg crossed the line in third place and the Sanlas-supported star celebrated his maiden DTM podium.
On Sunday, the goal was to do even better. And that meant pole position. With only one lap to go, he was sitting in fourth, the position from which he has started four times already this season. Knowing it wasn’t good enough, he re-focused, gave himself a “virtual slap” and put in the perfect lap to take pole position – a DTM first for him and for WRT.
“I made a few mistakes in quali and I was getting frustrated, which probably resulted in over-driving. I had one lap left so I took a moment to re-set, gave myself a virtual slap and remembered that I have to take opportunities in life when they are given to me. I re-focused, made no mistakes and put it on pole.”
In race two he led the pack while chaos behind caused two safety car periods. Still in front at the pits, his team completed an incredible pit stop but he still emerged behind Rast, who had exited in cleaner air. Habsburg started setting fastest laps to hunt down the DTM championship leader before his pace dropped off and he was forced to make an additional stop, finishing just inside the points (P10).
“I’m gutted that we just lost the pace after the pits stops. We need to look into what happened. But I’m going to use this disappointment to drive me into the season finale. To take a race win is extremely tough but I think I’ve shown we’re capable of it. It was a mega weekend but the aim is to end the season even higher. I will draw on everything I have learned in my career to this point – the good and the bad – and be as prepared as I can be.”
Habsburg rose through the single-seater ranks before stepping over to DTM in 2019 with R-Motorsport and the now defunct Aston Martin Vantage DTM car. The season served him well, if not in overall results, in mental preparation as he kicked off the 2020 season as the fastest driver in pre-season testing.
“A lot has led to the point and it wasn’t always easy. Last year, for example, was both brilliant and tough. The team at R-Motorsport were and still are like family to me, and the tough times on track made me a much better driver and stronger mentally. You learn a lot from driving the slowest car on track – you can’t rely on mechanical advantage, you have to give everything you have as a driver. I definitely brought that this season. I left nothing in the bag. I have put it all out on track and I’m reaching my potential. Let’s see what we can end the season with!”
The DTM heads to Hockenheim for the season finale on 06-08 November and Habsburg sits in ninth place in the championship, which includes many of the world’s best racing drivers.