With all three manufacturers now having confirmed their full driver line ups, now would seem a good time to give a run a through of the 22 drivers competing in the 2013 season. I’ll go through them in the order they in which finished last year’s campaign, with rookies coming at the end.
Bruno Spengler (BMW)
Finally, after some many years of finishing the year as bridesmaid, the French-Canadian took his first DTM crown. He had to do it the hard way, too, with Mercedes driver and former champion, Gary Paffett, heading the standings virtually all season. Throughout the second half of the season, though, Bruno would eat away at the British driver’s lead at the top, winning three of the last five races to beat the Thomas Sabo backed Mercedes to the crown. And don’t forget, he did this with BMW, the manufacturer making its return to the series after many years away. I’m sure I’m not the only one who believes this crown with be the first of many for the 29-year-old, as they do say the first one is always the hardest, and Bruno seems to be one of the main title contenders season in, season out. There is no reason as to why Bruno can’t repeat that success in 2013.
Gary Paffett (Mercedes)
The Briton is arguably very unlucky not to have been the one taking the 2012 crown back home with him. He was the pace setter throughout the season , coupling good speed and results with great consistency. What cost him the title, unfortunately, seemed to be the mistakes of others, most notably being spun out of the lead on the first lap at the Norisring after Augusto Farfus had been over ambitious on the run to the first corner, and Martin Tomczyk locking up in tricky conditions at Zandvoort and bumping into the side of Paffett, turning the Brit around. Paffett will undoubtably be the lead Mercedes driver again in 2013, with Jamie Green’s departure to rivals Audi and the team’s subsequent reduction to six cars, with 4 of those drivers being young and relative newcomers to the series. If luck is, this time, on his side, Paffett will definitely be a regular front-runner again in 2013, nd he will be determined to take what he will believe he deserved to win in 2012.
Jamie Green (Audi)
This will be a big season for the Brit following his move to Audi after a relatively successful eight season tenour with Mercedes, but ultimately eight seasons in which failed to deliver the title. The 30-year-old had a strong campaign, taking one win, which, incidentally, will probably go down as one of the most dramatic finishes to a race ever in the series, as he charged through in the field in changing conditions, taking the lead from Martin Tomczyk at the last corner of the last lap of the race. (Click here to see it, sorry it’s in German). He will be expected to be on form straight away with his new team if he is to retain his reputation as one of the series’ leading drivers, but I believe he has the quality to pull it off.
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi)
The Audi Le Mans team regular is a consistent driver in the DTM but rarely spectacular, with only the solitary DTM win to his name, which came in 2011. That would/should have been two, had he not been over-cautious in the wet conditions at Zandvoort, handing the lead and eventual win to Audi team-mate Edoardo Mortara. There is no doubting his ability, but ‘Rocky’ won’t be regarded as one the DTM’s pace setters until he replicates his sports car success in the touring car series.
Edoardo Mortara (Audi)
I really rate this guy, as I made clear in a previous blog. After an impressive debut campaign in the series in 2011, 2012 was the year the Italian made a name for himself as one of the emerging young talents in not just the DTM, but also international motor sport. He took two great wins and was unlucky not be able to mount a title challenge. As a former Formula 3 Euro Series champion, one of 4 on the 2013 grid, Mortara has shown he has what it takes to win a major motor sport crown, and what’s to say he can’t add a DTM title to that collection? One thing is for certain, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on in 2013.
Mattias Ekström (Audi)
2012 was a difficult year for multiple DTM champion Ekström, with the Swede not managing to finish higher than third (a result he achieved on three occasions throughout the course of the season) in any race. The 34-year-old has been a consistent front-runner in the DTM for over a decade and he is always one that you under-estimate at your peril. He will be determined to put the record straight in 2013, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do just that.
Augusto Farfus (BMW)
I’ve already stated in an earlier post that I believe the Brazilian will be a dark horse in 2013, having finished 2012 on such a strong run of results, including two consecutive poles, a win and a third place. Remember that was his maiden season in the series, so he should be hoping for an even better campaign this time around. If he can maintain that good form going into his second season, he may be an outsider for title contention come October.
Martin Tomczyk (BMW)
No driver will be more disappointed with their respective 2012 campaigns than BMW Team RMG driver Tomczyk. After a remarkable 2011 season, in which he won the title for Audi in an older car, the 31-year-old went into 2012 as BMW’s main man, their ‘big signing’. He wasn’t expected to win the title, with many believing that the BMW M3 would be off the ultimate pace for most of the season as the team continued to learn on their return to the series. As it turned out, though, the M3 wasn’t too bad at all, but it wasn’t the reigning champion who was scoring the results, it was Spengler. Tomczyk, in truth, had a frustrating season in which he scored no wins, although he came close at the Norisring as we saw earlier, a race he will probably feel he should have won. However, Martin is a championship winning driver in a championship winning car, so he definitely has what it takes to put things straight in 2013.
Dirk Werner (BMW)
Werner started last year on a high, qualifying third in his first ever DTM qualifying session. However, it wouldn’t be until round five that he would score his first points in the series, just the one at the Norisring. he picked up his form from there and scored points in four of the last five rounds. He won’t be a title contender, but I think the experienced German has what it takes to start being a consistent podium finisher in the series.
Adrien Tambay (Audi)
It is pretty remarkable that the 21-year-old DTM rookie finished in to top ten in the standings in 2012, bearing in mind he scored points just TWICE. What puts the Frenchman up here, however, is the fact that both of those points finishes were very strong ones, not least the second place at Valencia following Edoardo Mortara’s retirement. There were also flashes of real pace in the other races, too, including running 5th for a reasonable period of time at Brands Hatch after a great start. He is continuing to learn and he is still improving, and should be hoping for more strong outings in the new season.
Filipe Albuquerque (Audi)
The 2010 ROC Champion is another of the emerging talents in the DTM. He is now a consistent points scorer in the series, finishing out side the top ten just three times in 2012. He is also still learning and will be one to watch as he continues to improve, as there is plenty of reason to believe he could possibly take a podium or two in the not so distant future.
Christain Vietoris (Mercedes)
The young German started his second DTM campaign in 2012, and he started it well. Fourth place at the first round in Hockenheim was a mighty result, but he wouldn’t taste similar success again all season. In fact, he scored points on just three other occasions in 2012. As a former Formula 3 Euro Series and GP2 race winner, he has talent. But he will need to show it more in the DTM more often than he did last year.
Andy Priaulx (BMW)
The three-time World Touring Car Champion simply did not have any of the luck in 2012, and would have been hoping for far more than just the four average points finishes he scored in his debut season. But the Guernseyman is a fighter, and a very smart one at that. He knows how to win championships at the highest level, so he is very much capable of turning things around in 2013.
Timo Scheider (Audi)
It’s hard to believe that just 3 years ago, Scheider took his second consecutive DTM crown, because now he seems to be struggling having not scored a single win since then. Like Priaulx, Timo never seems to have much luck. This was made obvious in 2012 at Zandvoort, when he took an impressive pole position only to get caught up in other people’s incidents in the race and retire from it early as a result. He has the ability to start challenging for wins again, so I hope for his sake that he manages it soon.
Robert Wickens (Mercedes)
The 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Wickens was labelled as having an impressive debut season in the DTM in 2012, despite scoring pints on just three occasions. The main reason for the praise seems to be his pace, which is not surprising bearing in mind his single-seater successes. It will be interesting to see if he can be more consistent in 2013.
Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes)
The six-time Formula One race winner is this year entering his sixth consecutive DTM season. It is surprising that given his Formula One success and DTM experience, he only has one DTM podium to his name, and no wins. He is in fact a bit of a burden sometimes, having caused a few incidents and picked up a few penalties in his tenour in the series. He need to pick things up this year though, as he will be expected to help Gary Paffett lead the young Mercedes team now that Jamie Green has left. It is hard seeing Schumacher’s DTM career lasting beyond 2013 if he does not give the rest of Mercedes’ young stars someone to look up to.
Miguel Molina (Audi)
The Spaniard started his career in the DTM with two great seasons in 2010 and 2011, but his formed certainly dipped in 2012. Just two points finishes is more than disappointing for a driver who ended 2011 in such great form. He has been trusted with a seat in 2013, but will need to get back to his best if he is wants to keep it in 2014.
Joey Hand (BMW)
The American had a tough first season in the DTM, scoring points just twice. He is an experienced driver and showed good pace at times last year, so he will be hoping for a fresh start this year.
Roberto Mehri (Mercedes)
21-year-old Spaniard Mehri earned the reputation as a top young single-seater driver after winning the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series title. However his debut DTM campaign was far from a success. He was quick, but inconsistent and erratic, and didn’t score a single point all season as a result. There will be a lot of pressure on him this year to show the DTM world how good he really is.
Timo Glock (BMW)
Certainly the big news in the build up to the new season is the arrival of former Formula One podium finisher Timo Glock, following his departure from F1 team Marussia. He will certainly be expected to hit the ground running and he is definitely capable of doing so.
Marco Wittmann (BMW)
The 23-year-old had the role of BMW’s test driver in 2012 and has been given one of the team’s extra two race seats in 2013. His role from last year will mean he has some experience with the car, which should put him in good stead for his debut season in the series.
Daniel Juncadella (Mercedes)
The reigning Formula 3 Euro Series champion joins the Mercedes team in 2013,and will be hoping to make a better immediate impression than his compatriot Roberto Mehri. His credentials show he should be one to watch in the next few seasons.