Red Bull Ring – Austria, 24th September 2023
The penultimate round of the DTM took place last weekend at the Red Bull Ring and was characterised by difficult and changeable weather conditions. Emil Frey Racing could not achieve the results on the track of its partner Red Bull as initially hoped but had a conciliatory end with solid points results.
Race 1 I Saturday, 23rd September 2023:
On Friday, the 4.318-kilometre-long track still showed its beautiful side, and the two Free Practice sessions took place in dry conditions. In the first session, the Top-16 were within half a second of each other and Jack Aitken set the fourth fastest time in the #14 Ferrari. In the second session, Thierry Vermeulen impressed with third place, just 0.157 seconds behind the fastest of the day, the #1 BMW.
For the qualifying on Saturday morning, the decisive factor was the right tyre choice, because with track temperatures of just 15 degrees Celsius and changing conditions, it was decided to go out with rain tyres. But the two Ferrari 296 GT3s fell short of expectations: Thierry Vermeulen placed the number 69 16th. The time of Jack Aitken, who was celebrating his birthday, was only enough for position 18.
Before the start of the race, light rain again made conditions difficult. As the weather forecast was unclear, it was decided to split the strategy and send out the number 14 of Jack Aitken on slicks, while Thierry Vermeulen started with rain tyres.
The race was open after two formation laps behind the safety car, but Jack Aitken was constantly losing ground and could not hold off his opponents. However, on lap 18 he drove the absolute best third sector up to date. On lap 22 he came into the pits and then finished the race on slicks in a disappointing 20th place.
Thierry Vermeulen had a great duel with the #9 Porsche in the early stages and eventually with the #27 Mercedes until he pitted from the 18th position on lap 19 to get new tyres. But two laps later his race ended in the gravel when he was manoeuvred out of the race by the #63 Lamborghini.
Race 2 I Sunday, 24th September 2023:
In dry qualifying on Sunday morning, the lap-times were extremely close together and the first 18 drivers were within half a second of each other. Jack Aitken placed the number 14 Ferrari in a promising third place, while teammate Thierry Vermeulen started the one-hour race from 12th.
While Jack Aitken lost a few positions in the turbulent start, Thierry Vermeulen made up four positions on the first lap. From the fourth lap on, the Emil Frey Racing Ferraris were running in positions 8 and 9 and kept them until the pit stop window. From the 20th minute, the race was declared a “wet race” due to drizzle, but at the pit-stops on lap 20 and lap 23 respectively, both cars went back on track with new slicks.
Thanks to excellent pit-stops by the crew, both Ferraris retained their positions. Jack Aitken and Thierry Vermeulen set personal best sector times in the race’s final phase and took home conciliatory points with two Top-10 results.
Team Quote Emil Frey Racing
Jürg Flach, Technical Director: “During testing on Thursday and Free Practice on Friday, the car was very good, and we were actually convinced that we could achieve good positions over the weekend. The wet qualifying on Saturday was certainly different from our liking and we were not where we saw ourselves. In the race on Saturday, we didn’t have the performance with the wet tyres and then of course we were unlucky with the bump at number 69. In the end the weekend was certainly not satisfactory and even though we achieved Top-10 results, I’m disappointed that we couldn’t achieve more here at the Red Bull Ring.”
Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #14
Jack Aitken (Great Britain): “It is not our strength to have a start on an uphill straight. The BMWs are very strong there. Otherwise, we were attacked from all sides on Sunday’s first lap and needed to be in the right place at the right time. Overall, it was a difficult weekend for us, and we struggled a bit with the mixed conditions. Qualifying was stronger on Sunday, but we keep having a few issues during the races that we know we need to work on to improve for next year.”
Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #69
Thierry Vermeulen (Netherlands): ” It’s a nice track for me with my partner Red Bull and I had high hopes with our Turbo Ferrari. We started the weekend quite positively, but unfortunately, we needed help with our pace at the beginning of qualifying and the race. It was difficult for us to find the right pace in the mixed conditions. We know our problems and we need to solve them…. We had some good weekends, which I am happy about, and we see a good trend.”