Mattias Ekström reflects on a good/bad fourth place at the Red Bull Ring.
It’s a few days after the DTM race at the Red Bull Ring and I’ve still got mixed feelings about the event. Going to Austria I had high hopes that we would be good. Audi had made some progress and that was apparent right from the start of practice on Friday when the car felt much better than it had in the previous races. By Saturday morning and qualifying I felt really, really comfortable. Q1, Q2, Q3 were all alright but I made a little mistake in Q4 and that proved costly. I ended up third on the grid.
The performance to be on pole was there, no discussion about that – it was up to me and I didn’t get the job done. And yes, that’s a little frustrating.
Still, on Sunday we put that behind us and I got an absolutely awesome start and was right up with Gary Paffett into Turn One, trying to find a way past. He blocked and then was ultra-conservative, braking very, very early. That’s fair enough but it left me a sitting duck behind him. Edoardo Mortara and Martin Tomczyk went wide and sailed by on the outside.
I took some risks after that, trying to get back track position but it didn’t work out and at the end of the first lap I was P4 and that’s how it stayed. None of those guys were making big errors and eventually I had some brake problems, having followed so closely behind Tomczyk. It’s a disappointing result given the good level of performance we had.
'The positive aspect is that we have the pace and were fighting for pole'
And that’s the thing isn’t it? At Brands Hatch I finished fifth and thought that was really good; at the Red Bull Ring I was unhappy with fourth because the car was better. But if you look at it the other way, the positive aspect of the weekend is that we have the pace and were fighting for pole and fighting to win. It’s a great feeling to know that you have a car underneath you that can do that. We’re going to a test now and hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze out even more and take that to the next race at the Norisring in a couple of weeks’ time.
I’ve been asked whether it’s better or worse when the guy who wins is driving another Audi. It honestly doesn’t bother me either way. At the beginning of my career in DTM I would have paid some attention to my team-mates but you get past that. After becoming champion for the first time I got to the point where it was more important to beat everyone, whether that’s Gary Paffett and Bruno Spengler or Timo Scheider and Edoardo Mortara. It doesn’t matter what car they’re driving, you have to beat them all.
The big picture of course is that it’s much, much better that Audi win. It’s good that we have a competitive car and I’ll benefit from the data gathered on Mortara’s car – there’s always something to learn when you have quick team-mates.
Congratulations to Edo, by the way. It’s a great feeling to win your first race in DTM. It will stay with him for the rest of his life, as I know mine will. Of course after the first one it just makes you hungry to win the next one, and the next one, and the next…