The DTM races at Misano, Italy, gave Robin Frijns a lot to cheer about: At the ‘Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli’, the 27-year old finished second and fourth.
After 13 years, 11 months and 21 days, the Audi driver was the first Dutch on the podium since his compatriot Christijan Albers.
“I had a few really good races: at Budapest, Brands Hatch and particularly at Misano. I was absolutely competitive when it came to the pace in the races. I had some bad luck at Zandvoort when my car broke down and I also had to cope with minor problems at Budapest and Brands Hatch."
"Sometimes there are small thing you just can’t control. That happens. But I was really happy with my pace,” Frijns told DTM.com.
In the end, the former Formula One test driver finished 13th in the championship. Nonetheless, he occasional succeeded in shining. For instance, in the season finale at Hockenheim where he delivered in great style to finish second and fifth.
“In the early stages of the season I still was looking for the best way to deal with the DTM car. Doing so represented a change for me. It’s only about small details."
"The car is fun but it also can be very frustrating at times if you don’t find the proper balance, on a race weekend. Due to a penalty I started into the final race of the season from the last position on the grid but set the fastest race lap and finished fifth. A really good end of my first DTM season.”
But occasionally, the aforementioned frustration got the upper hand. With hindsight, Frijns would have loved to do without the trip to the United Kingdom. At the circuit in Kent County he had to settle for finishing 12th twice. But the reasons for these results were particularly annoying for him.
“I was the fastest in the first practise session, second in the second and everything looked promising. Then, I was stopped by a yellow flag on my fastest qualifying lap – and was 11th on the grid. Afterwards I was on my way up but a poor pit stop made me drop back again."
"In the Sunday race I had a close encounter with the Mercedes of Lucas Auer in turn three and dropped back to last position. I didn’t make any major mistakes. The Brands Hatch weekend was really tough for me. I had the pace but had to leave England empty-handed. Everything went wrong.”
The existing pace in the race was one matter, the lacking qualifying pace the other. Apart from Augusto Farfus and Jamie Green, Frijns was the only driver who failed to score a qualifying point.
“Sometimes I had bad luck, sometimes I lacked the pace. This definitely was my weak point. Getting the tires to the proper working temperature was difficult. You have got just one lap, maximum two if you are lucky, for your fastest lap. Reading the tyres wasn’t easy for me. That’s something I definitely have to work on.”
Nonetheless, Frijns often mad the best of his poor grid positions. He demonstrated his racing qualities in impressive style – and confirmed these skills with figures. In the 20 races, the Dutchman gained a total of 50 positions, more than any other of then 18 drivers on the grid.
“I often came back in great style. I had a lot of overtaking manoeuvres. To race, battle it out with other drivers and work my way up always has been my strength.”
Playing hardball is a must in these situations. The wheel-to-wheel or bumper-to-bumper battles represent a part of DTM’s fascination. And can result in flying carbon components.
But those who go beyond the pale are booked or penalised. In this area, Frijns made it to the first row. He was booked five times and consequently, he was the only driver to have received two grid penalties.
“I got two or three bookings at the beginning of the season but I’d say they weren’t issued because I made my personal mistakes. In the season kick-off, for instance, at the end of the practice session, I dove along the pit lane with the lights being switched to red as we were two seconds late."
"And at Zandvoort I was too fast in a slow zone as had had been informed too late by my engineer. I generally don’t regard myself as bad boy.”
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