QUICK CHAT: Uli Fritz
Uli, with the benefit of a few days’ reflection, how would you sum up the Budapest weekend?
Ulrich Fritz: It was certainly one of the most emotional DTM weekends we’ve ever had. Everything started so well. At the beginning of the race weekend, we were not sure where we stood compared to BMW and Audi. In the past, Budapest has not been a track that we’ve been particularly strong on. Then came the first qualifying session, and it was apparent that we were really on song and that we could get something here. The one-two win and Gary taking the lead in the championship were certainly the high points of the weekend. Unfortunately, the jubilant mood didn’t last long, as the discussions about the alleged team order started up immediately. After Sunday’s unprecedented qualifying result – a grid lock-out of the first five positions plus a P7 – we all thought “Wow, today could be a really great day”. Unfortunately, the opposite turned out to be the case. The moment people are injured, the sporting outcome becomes of secondary importance. It was certainly a shock to all concerned when the situation in the pit lane began to unfold. We all hope that the injured will recover as soon as possible. That’s the most important thing. I don’t really want to say too much about the sporting result, but it’s obviously very frustrating when you look all set to score a hatful of points and you then see your strongest opponents on the podium at the end of the day. The fact that Marco, Timo and Philipp dispensed with the customary champagne shower on the podium shows great character. We’re certainly not going to mope about the lost points now but instead concentrate on the fight-back at the Norisring.
Since Sunday, there has been a lot of discussion about whether at least the accidents after Lucas’s could have been prevented. What’s your opinion?
Ulrich Fritz: The race management has a very, very difficult job in situations such as we saw on Sunday. In circumstances like these, decisions have to be made in seconds. However, the implications of these decisions not only affect the safety of everyone involved and the course of the race but also championships and possibly even careers. Of course, in hindsight it would have been right to bring out the red flag earlier. But with what we know now, that’s easy to say. It’s important that we all take a very close look at what happened and discuss how we can avoid such things in the future. We started this discussion right after the events in Budapest.
Going back to sporting matters, how would you rate the performance of your team so far?
Ulrich Fritz: Purely from a performance perspective, the weekend in Budapest was an extremely strong one for us. Across the three brands, it has to be said that the cars are actually very closely matched. This shows all the more what a great job our engineers are doing on the setup and our drivers are delivering on the track. It’s a very good feeling when you know that you’re in with a chance of winning races and that you are real contenders for the title. Timo may be in the lead at the moment, but we have some drivers who are within striking distance. It’s going to be anything but dull in the remaining races.