Red Bull Ferrari in the 2022 DTM: The long haul

Red Bull Ferrari in the 2022 DTM: The long haul

In a way it was characteristic of the 2022 DTM season of the works team Ferrari AF Corse: In the final race of the year at Hockenheimring, neither of the two 488 GT3s of the Red Bull partner team was on the grid. Nick Cassidy faced a technical challenge in Saturday’s race after the engine of Dennis Olsen’s Porsche hit the driver’s door and the car failed to repair. Teammate Felipe Fraga suffered a fatal crash later in qualifying on Sunday morning – no start for the following races.

In 2021, AF Corse won the team’s championship immediately in their DTM debut and, together with Liam Lawson, missed out on the drivers’ title by a hair’s breadth. In 2022, the strong racing team led by German sports director Ron Reichert had to settle for seventh place in the table. In the end, the gap between the team and driver champion Schubert-BMW was 97 points. The best placed of all Ferrari drivers was New Zealand’s Cassidy in 13th place, his colleague Fraga did not go past P16.

AF Corse in DTM: results only half the truth

Looking at the raw results, one would have to conclude that AF Corse had a bad season in their second DTM year compared to 2021. As is often the case in motorsport, this is only half the truth. “It’s great to see that our two cars were very competitive,” Reichert reflected back to “At the same time, it’s easy to forget that many other factors contributed.”

So the DTM promoter Fraga can certainly be described as the unluckiest man in the 2022 season. The Red Bull rider, who almost nobody in Europe had on their radar and whom Reichert had touted as a title contender before the first race, he can look back on a remarkable streak of bankruptcies: In 9 of the 16 races of the season, I did not see the checkered flag or could not make it at all just start.

Before the Hockenheim crash, Fraga had to miss the race at the Lausitzring because his Ferrari caught fire in qualifying. In seven other races, the Brazilian retired early due to technical problems, tire damage or collisions, mostly through no fault of his own.

Flaming: Felipe Fraga's Ferrari at the Lausitzring, Photo: LAT Images
Flaming: Felipe Fraga’s Ferrari at the Lausitzring, Photo: LAT Images

Felipe Fraga: “More points lost than wins”

Seven non-finishers in the first nine races of the season alone – a staggering interim result that looks even sadder when you look at Fraga’s qualifying results: In the first nine qualifying sessions of the season, he managed to finish in the top 6 on the grid. six times. An excellent performance that was not only due to the all-round power of the Ferrari 488, but above all to the talent of Fraga. His only win at the Norisring was followed by another defeat at the next event at the Nürburgring…

Reichert: “No matter how unlucky we and the drivers were, we always came out strong. We never lost motivation. Felipe was very unlucky. His failure was not his own fault. He was often in the top positions and Taken out of the race. and competitors. He probably lost more points in the playoffs than he did. That put him out of contention for the championship.”

Cassidy: There are no championship chances even before the start of the season

There was no turmoil on the other side of the AF Corse garage, which, among other things, manages Ferrari’s works entries in the WEC and will also present the new Le Mans Hypercar from 2023. Racing legend Sebastien Loeb, young driver Ayhancan Güven and finally regular driver Nick Cassidy: the blue and white team’s Ferrari 488 GT3 seemed to have more revs than a turbocharged sports car…

Because Red Bull, as the main sponsor, was late to announce the continuation of the DTM program after the events involving Liam Lawson at the Norisring final in 2021, many of the top drivers were no longer available for a long time. And because Cassidy prioritized or had to prioritize his Formula E program with Envision-Audi, it was clear even before the season started that he would have no chance of winning the DTM title due to missing a few races.

The 28-year-old, who is celebrated as a star in Japan because of his success there, missed the season opener in Portimao and the season finale at the Norisring. In the first three weekends of his race with the GT3 Ferrari, which he does not know much about, at the Lausitzring, at Imola and at the Nürburgring, Cassidy achieved great success such as two top 8 results in qualifying and seventh place in the championship. Eifel race.

Hot spa battle: Nick Cassidy vs. Rene Rast, Photo: DTM
Hot spa battle: Nick Cassidy vs. Rene Rast, Photo: DTM

Cassidy gives the Ferrari 488 GT3 its 500th win

It was only late in the DTM that he was able to confirm the fact that the motorcycle experts have been ranked among the top drivers for years: in his eighth race of the season at Spa-Francorchamps, he drove from third place on the grid to his. first DTM victory. At the next event at the Red Bull Ring – the team’s ‘home game’ – Cassidy dominated with pole position (inherited from a penalty against Rene Rast) and second place on the grid in the qualifying sessions, followed by the subsequent victory of Saturday’s race. race – the 500th worldwide for the Ferrari 488 GT3.

“Nick had a very difficult start because he missed the start of the season and at the beginning he drove more often on tracks that didn’t suit our car the best,” Reichert summarized. “That’s why he had a hard time. But he always cooperated well with the team. At Spa and Spielberg he was able to show his skills and show everyone that now he is also a DTM winner.”

Ron Reichert with Nick Cassidy, Image: Red Bull Content Pool
Ron Reichert with Nick Cassidy, Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Loeb and Güven were thrown in at the deep end

Very positive from Reichert’s point of view: the short-term inclusion of Cassidy’s substitute drivers, namely Loeb at Portimao and Güven at the Norisring. Neither the nine-time World Rally Champion – Loeb’s debut was not a real revolution for DTM – nor Güven, who is certainly used to Porsche, did not have enough time to get used to AF Corse Ferrari.

An exceptional racing driver, Loeb finished 16th and 18th (starting 21st & 27th) in the Portuguese Grand Prix and once again stunned the motoring world with his all-round ability. Güven impressed at the Norisring with third and seventh places and after retiring on Saturday in Sunday’s race he still scored points with seventh place.

The first DTM with a big star: Sebastien Loeb, Photo: LAT Pictures
The first DTM with a big star: Sebastien Loeb, Photo: LAT Pictures

AF Corse in the 2022 DTM: “Big top, big bottom”

It is true that the cockpit changes were of no use to AF Corse in handling the ‘head protection’ project. So it must be considered an achievement that the team even traveled to the Hockenheim final as third in the team championship. An open round at the Baden Motodrom, including two general faults, clouded the balance sheet at the final statement.

Reichert: “We had a lot of highs and lows this year. But all in all you have to say that we worked well together as a team, we did a great job and we didn’t give up. I’m very interested in that. why all the positive aspects are more important to me than bad things.” It is not yet known how AF Corse or sponsor Red Bull will proceed in the future of DTM. Registration for the 2023 season will begin in November.