Austrian racing driver Ferdinand von Habsburg made his DTM debut this weekend, when the 2019 series kicked off at the Hockenheimring in Germany. The 21-year old rookie was impressed with R-Motorsport’s competitiveness with the new Aston Martin Vantage DTM car and showed a glimpse of the potential this season could bring.
von Habsburg, who was not only making his DTM debut but also his touring car debut, knew that he had a lot to learn in a short amount of time. The single-seater star progressed from the FIA European F3 Series directly into the most competitive touring car series in the world, so needed to use the opening round of the season to get up-to-speed.
“At the end of Friday’s practice sessions, I was happy with my progress,” the AVL-Racing sponsored driver said. “Yeah, for sure, I have a lot to learn but that’s not news to anyone. I just have to keep focussed, listen to my experienced team-mates, and make sure I quickly get to grips with what is the most-powerful DTM car of all time.”
von Habsburg’s team-mates at the Swiss-based R-Motorsport are DTM championship-winner Paul Di Resta (GBR), former Mercedes AMG factory driver Dani Juncadella (ESP) and Red Bull Racing F1 test driver Jake Dennis (GBR). All four drivers compete in identical Aston Martin DTM cars, which, for the 2019 season, have been given a four-cylinder turbo-powered engine producing around 640 bhp.
“The car feels unlike anything I’ve ever driven before so I really was starting from scratch. What I was really impressed with from the beginning of this programme is how prepared R-Motorsport is for the season. They only started designing and building the cars at the end of last year and we were quick out of the box here at Hockenheim.”
After a solid start to the event in practice, wet weather and an oil leak on Saturday hampered progress in qualifying and race one, but von Habsburg refused to let this affect him on Sunday. In qualifying two, he was in the mix with his more experienced team-mates and qualified third of the four Aston Martin Vantage DTM cars.
“Qualifying two was much better – mainly because the conditions were dry – I finally felt like I had the chance to improve. Of course, there is more in the car but, for my first dry qualifying session, I was happy to not be at the back of the grid or slowest in the team.”
Race two was where the humble rookie really began to improve and show some of his potential for the up-coming season. After starting in P17, he put in a fantastic drive to cross the line in P13 after 36 laps of racing.
“It was fun to battle for positions and make some overtakes,” he concluded. “I really felt like I started to understand the car and I can’t wait to come back and learn some more. DTM cars are difficult to master and it’s a very competitive field, but I think we have a fantastic season ahead. I’m just super impressed with R-Motorsport and know that the team will be on the podium in no time. My next target is a top ten finish so I can get some points in the bag.”
von Habsburg next races in the second round of the DTM series on 17-19 May in Zolder in Belgium.