Audi: DTM opener struggles proving aero fears correct

Audi says its concerns that the new-for-2018 DTM aerodynamic package would hurt it more than any other manufacturer were proven correct in the season-opening race at Hockenheim.

Audi: DTM opener struggles proving aero fears correct
Dieter Gass, Head of DTM Audi Sport with Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM
Robin Frijns, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi RS5 DTM
Mike Rockenfeller, Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Audi RS 5 DTM

The reigning champion manufacturer took the drivers' championship with Rene Rast last year, as well as winning the teams' and constructors' titles.

Audi admitted that aerodynamics was the strongest element of its DTM RS5 car last year and over the off-season it suggested that the simplified aero package would hurt its title defence.

The Ingolstadt marque began the season with just one driver qualifying in the top 10, before Rast and Loic Duval finished ninth and 10th as its highest-placed drivers in the opening race, as Mercedes and Gary Paffett dominated.

Audi DTM boss Dieter Gass told Motorsport.com that those results proved the manufacturer was right to be concerned.

“It became very obvious that we have been hurt most by the new aero package which is another proof that this was one of our big advantages last year,” he said.

“Tyre management seems to be more difficult due to the downforce loss. It seems to be more sensitive to the tyre, it seems to drop off at one stage even if you don’t push too hard on it.

“Last year it was only dropping off if you were exaggerating at the end of your day. It’s something we looked at and something where we need to find some improvements.”

Gass added that Audi had been combating oversteer problems through Saturday and Sunday.

“We were struggling a bit with oversteer on Friday which we reduced, but I would say we still had a tendency for oversteer in balance [on Saturday]. But mainly cars were OK-ish to drive [in qualifying and the race].

“I wouldn’t say we have any specific problem, we are just slow.”

Audi experimented with set-up in Sunday morning's third practice session and took a one-two with Rast and Jamie Green, but the running took place on a green track in cooler temperatures.

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