Ex-F1 driver Sergey Sirotkin was chuffed with his maiden DTM test with Audi alongside six other racers at Jerez earlier in the week.
Following his last F1 race in Abu Dhabi with Williams, Sirotkin was a late addition in the three-day DTM’s ‘Young Driver Test’ at Jerez where he joined six others to drive the 2018 Audi RS5 DTM car at the Spanish circuit.
The Russian’s chance only came on Day 2 of the test which saw Rallycross racer Andreas Bakkerud in action along with Formula 3 racers Sacha Fenestraz & Jonathan Aberderin and GT/Touring car racers Benoit Treluyer, Mattia Drudi and Frederic Vervisch.
Audi’s Jamie Green worked as the reference driver for the other racers to match as Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Muller sampled the 2019 car which has new two-liter four-cylinder turbo engine delivering some 600 horsepower.
Among the seven racers trying out the 2018 DTM car, Aberdein completed the highest number of laps at 220 with Sirotkin doing the second best at 91 followed by Treluyer (70), Bakkerud (59), Fenestraz (57), Drudi (50) and Vervisch (47).
“I watched the DTM even as a child, so I was incredibly excited about the test,” said Sirotkin. “Being able to sit in an RS 5 DTM was a unique experience, but also pretty tricky. I hadn’t found the perfect feel for the car by the end of my stint.
“I’ve never driven a race car before that comes close to the RS 5 DTM – the closest I may have come to it was in Formula 3. The engineers and the mechanics supported me as best they could and shortened the time for me to familiarize myself as much as possible – many thanks once more to everyone.”
It remains to be seen what Sirotkin does now in 2019 and if he competes in DTM or not which will dependent on SMP Racing’s decision as well. Rallycross driver Bakkerud added: “For me as a rallycross driver, a completely new chapter.
“Last week I was able to prepare a little for the test in the simulator at Team Rosberg. Obviously, then driving the RS 5 DTM here on the race track was even quite a bit more impressive.
“It was hard to believe how late you can brake with the DTM cars. Jamie (Green) and Rene (Rast) gave me some valuable pointers in this respect.” Renault junior and F3 racer Fenestraz though had a barrier excursion right at the end of his run.
“I hadn’t expected the DTM race cars to be so incredibly fast. My stints went really well, except for the slip shortly before the end of the test when I got off track and hit the barrier,” said the Frenchman.
“Nothing happened to me but of course it bothered me that the car was damaged in the incident. Even so, it was a unique experience for me.” His F3 rival Aberdein said: “Driving the Audi RS 5 DTM on a race track was an elating experience.
“I’m simply thankful for the opportunity to test the car here at Jerez. The days really flew by. I was amazed about how much performance the car delivers considering its size. I’ve only driven single-seaters before that don’t have a roof and definitely not such a large cockpit, so the view of the track was a little unusual at first.”
Audi’s Project Leader, Andreas Roos was happy with how the things progressed not only with the young driver test but crucially the 2019 preparation. “This was another very good test for Audi Sport here at Jerez,” he said.
“All seven drivers did a very good job in our Audi RS 5 DTM. I was particularly pleased to see how excited they obviously were. Even someone like Sergey (Sirotkin) with Formula One experience under his belt had a grin on his face afterwards.
“With our test vehicle we were able to check off a lot of items on our test program list. We drove a total of 1,457 kilometers on these three days, and largely did so without any issues. Now we’re going to use the rather long winter break to analyze the data before we’ll return to Jerez in March for the next official pre-season DTM test.”