The 2019 DTM season is on the finishing straight. The BMW teams’ preparations for the grand finale at the Hockenheimring (GER) are in full swing. The BMW drivers have six wins, a further seven podiums and six pole positions to their name so far this season. In an interview, BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt discusses a difficult season for BMW M Motorsport in the DTM and looks ahead to 2020.
Mr Marquardt, the final round of the DTM at Hockenheim is almost upon us. What are your goals for the two races?
Jens Marquardt: “We want to head into the winter break on the back of at least one victory at Hockenheim. We owe that to our fans, at least. They have supported us brilliantly, despite a difficult year in the DTM. We want to thank them for that. We have shown over the course of the season that our overall package has what it takes to win races.”
How would you sum up the season so far?
Marquardt: “Of course we are not happy with where we find ourselves after 16 DTM races. We started the season well, but, for various reasons, we have run out of steam a little since the middle of the season. This is not what we demand of ourselves.
We want to be challenging for the title right down to the final round of a championship. The fact that we have not managed that this season is a disappointment for everyone. At the same time, we will use that disappointment to spur us on and motivate us for next season. We must, and will, improve next season, so that we have a say in who wins the title.”
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What are the reasons for this, and how will you approach the comeback?
Marquardt: “After a season like this, in which we have come up short of our own expectations, we will optimise a number of areas – based on the means we have at our disposal. For example, we are currently examining exactly what configuration and structure the BMW M4 DTM will be run in the future. We must obviously get to grips with such issues as reliability. Our two works teams will continue to play a key role.
Although there is always potential for improvements on both sides, the crews of Bart Mampaey and Stefan Reinhold are working at a very high level. For this reason, we are also planning on working with our RBM and RMG works teams next season. At the same time, we are also performing a self-critical analysis in Munich and are pinpointing things we want to do better in the future, in order to also restore some consistency to our results. The prerequisite for all this is passion. That is what made us and our team strong and helped us to titles in the past, and that is what I want to see from every single individual.”
How does the driver line-up look?
Marquardt: “Our drivers are just as much a part of the overall DTM package as the car and the teams. As such, we will also be looking closely at this area. Our goal has to be to remain as compact as possible, both in qualifying and the race.
This season, we have not always been as successful in this regard as we were in the second qualifying session at the Nürburgring, when five of our six drivers set times within one tenth of a second of each other. We are also performing an analysis to identify the cause of this.”
Generally speaking, how many seats are up for grabs?
Marquardt: “We are planning on at least six BMW cars for next year’s DTM. Whether there will be a private BMW team remains to be seen. Our premise remains that the private team can cover the running costs itself.
BMW will not take on any additional budget. That is not the underlying idea – and would not be expedient, neither for us nor the team. BMW has a very clear philosophy in that regard.”