Mattias Ekstrom reflects on the path ahead and his first victory of the season at DTM’s show event in Munich’s Olympic Stadium.
Last week was a really busy one. The focus was obviously on Munich but before that I had a couple of days in Austria at the Red Bull Ring. I was doing an event called ‘Go with a Pro’, a driving school course where I spent some time with the people on the course which was a lot of fun. After that I drove down to Munich for the event in the Olympic Stadium.
Our DTM show event has been likened to the end-of-season Race of Champions but it really isn’t quite like that – DTM cars aren’t made for racing around a tight temporary track within a stadium and there isn’t really that much we can do to adapt them, so it’s a case of making the best of what we have. I think the organizers learnt from last year because the layout was definitely better this time around. It was simpler track, without the dangerous corners we saw in 2011 and we didn’t have the big crashes.
It was great feeling to win. There are no points on offer – which is something you have to bear in mind when you’re celebrating – but the reason we decided to become racing drivers it to win things, to spray the champagne and to take the applause. Last week I said I didn’t mind what happens because there aren’t any points on offer and it isn’t a serious competition. Having won I’d qualify that (!) and say that it’s a boost to the confidence – and it doesn’t matter where your confidence comes from, it’s good to have it. And not just for me – it’s good for the team as well. It shows the car is making progress.
I think the car was key to our success in Munich. The driver’s job is to be precise on the lines and get the braking points right – but everyone in DTM knows how to drive. I think we had an advantage in having a car that was a little bit better, and we found a setup with which I was comfortable – and ultimately that made the difference.
This week is a little bit quieter. I’m at Hockenheim today to watch F1 practice, and tomorrow I’m going to the Audi factory for a tour. Next week we’re back in the car for a test at Magny Cours in France. It’s a group test with all the manufacturers present. Why are we at Magny Cours? I guess somebody wanted a test at the end of the world – and maybe Knockhill in Scotland wasn’t available. It’ll be good.
It’s probably useful to have a test with some time either side without a race to concentrate on. The car is good now but I feel we still need to find a little more from it and it’s easier to do that when you have the time to do proper analysis. When there’s racing it’s stress and action and not really the right place to calmly take stock of what you have and what you need to find.
I think we’re in good shape though. I’m confident that we’re going to be able to repeat what happened last year where we came good in the second half of the season and put everything together to win races.