How the standout DTM privateer earned Audi stars' respect

Ferdinand Habsburg says he feels “grateful” to have earned the respect of Audi's factory DTM stars after starring in the 2020 season with the customer WRT team.

How the standout DTM privateer earned Audi stars' respect
Listen to this article

Following R-Motorsport’s withdrawal from the DTM after the 2019 season, Habsburg moved to WRT for his second year in the category alongside rookies Fabio Scherer and Harrison Newey.

An incident during practice compromised Habsburg during the season opener at Spa, but the Austrian driver bounced back strongly a fortnight later to finish sixth at the Lausitzring, opening the points account for his team.

A maiden front row start and a run four consecutive points finished followed at the Nurburgring double header, before he turned heads at Zolder with a first pole position and a first podium for a privateer in the series’ Class One era.

The 23-year-old went to secure a top 10 position in the drivers’ standings, beating three factory drivers from the BMW stable - including race winner Lucas Auer.

Asked how his rivals reacted when they saw a driver from a privateer team beating his factory counterparts, Habsburg said he was flattered that several Audi factory stars came up to him to congratulate him for his success.

“So in DTM we have like a podium ceremony for the qualifying sessions,” Habsburg told Motorsport.com. “I was quite frequently there at the end of the season. And when I got to P2 [at Zolder], Rene was on pole and he came up to me out of the car and he said, ‘Respect’. That’s not bad because I was like three hundredths off I think.

“Then the next day I was on pole and I had beaten him by three hundredths of a second. And he came up to me again and said, ‘Respect, biggest respect’. 

“At the end of the season they all came up to me in the interviews and they were like, ‘You did well this year’, which makes me go a little bit shy because these are the guys... Rocky [Mike Rockenfeller] is a champion, Rene is a champion, Jamie [Green] is nearly a champion. They’ve been doing it for so many years. Loic [Duval] has been doing it for so many years. 

“So it was crazy. Very grateful for that. I wish I could have done it more often and done it for another year because I feel we had a good chance at doing something even more special. But I guess what we got out of it is already quite special.”

Read Also:

The Class One era of the DTM came to a close at the 2020 season finale at Hockenheim, with the long-running German touring car category adopting GT3 regulations next year in response to Audi’s exit as a factory entrant.

Habsburg feels he and WRT could have achieved a lot more in the DTM had the rules remained stable for another season.

“We walked away from Hockenheim extremely melancholic about the championship and the [Class One] car being over,” he said. “But also because we were just so inexperienced compared to guys in the championship. 

“We needed another year at least because we were just getting to know each other. We were falling in love with each other because it just happened in Zolder. The faith was building. 

“Now it has been cut off. I’m very grateful for all the things that we’ve achieved this year, the momentum and the movement in the series. I’m super sad that it is over. Hopefully I’ll be able to work with WRT again because we know we know each other well now.”

Ferdinand Habsburg, Audi Sport Team WRT

Ferdinand Habsburg, Audi Sport Team WRT

Photo by: ITR eV

shares
comments
Rast will be seen as DTM legend in 10 years - Rockenfeller
Previous article

Rast will be seen as DTM legend in 10 years - Rockenfeller

Next article

BMW may be absent from DTM grid at start of 2021

BMW may be absent from DTM grid at start of 2021
The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality Prime

The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality

His day of days in Formula 1 came at Indianapolis in 2005, a day grand prix racing strives to forget. But Patrick Friesacher, the long-serving Red Bull lieutenant, remains active today driving a two-seater that provides ordinary people with a glimpse of an F1 car’s savage potential, including this writer...

Formula 1
Jun 2, 2022
How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir Prime

How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir

OPINION: Questionable driving standards and farcical team orders meant the DTM's first season under GT3 regulations ended under a cloud. But the organisation has responded firmly by banning team orders and welcomed new manufacturers, making for an intriguing season ahead as new and returning names prepare for battle.

DTM
Mar 30, 2022
The remarkable career of 'classy' champion Martin Tomczyk Prime

The remarkable career of 'classy' champion Martin Tomczyk

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of teammates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Motorsport.com to look back.

GT
Mar 5, 2022
Jamie Green: The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival Prime

Jamie Green: The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival

On his rise through the ranks before reaching Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton was usually a cut above the rest. But he never truly asserted himself over a Mercedes-backed fellow Briton who traded single-seaters for touring cars and is now seeking new opportunities after a year largely spent on the sidelines.

DTM
Dec 18, 2021
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Prime

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in.

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream" Prime

How Audi's new DTM flagbearer is closing on his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet.

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Prime

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works.

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Prime

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021