F1 notes: di Resta to DTM; van der Garde named Sauber reserve

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Two of the drivers from 2013 who failed to find a spot on the 2014 Formula One grid have landed in respectable areas.

Paul di Resta returns to the DTM, and with Mercedes-Benz. The Scot often punched above his weight in 57 Grands Prix over the last three years with Force India, and scored a best career result of fourth place twice (2012 Singapore Grand Prix, 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix). He resumes in the DTM after four full seasons there from 2007-’10, the latter of which he won the series championship.

“Much has changed since my last DTM race in Shanghai in 2010 with new cars, a new set of rules and a third manufacturer, but what has not changed is my enormous appetite for success,” di Resta said in a release. “Mercedes-Benz has given me a car that I can use to fight for wins and the title. However, I realize that it will not be easy.”

With Sam Bird known to be exploring his options in America – he’ll be racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Starworks Motorsport PC class team this weekend – Mercedes AMG Petronas is yet to nominate a reserve driver for 2014, and di Resta could be the pick there to keep him at least somewhat in the F1 fold.

Someone who is staying in the F1 fold, albeit now outside of a race seat after Caterham’s confirmations this morning, is Dutchman Giedo van der Garde. After his first season on the grid, van der Garde will move to Sauber where he has been nominated a test and reserve driver there.

“I consider this an important step in my career,” van der Garde said. “It is my goal to help the team with the development of the new car. But, of course, I am a racing driver, and I want to show the team and everybody else what I am capable of and that I deserve a race seat with the Sauber F1 Team in 2015. After all, my ambition remains unchanged and I am highly motivated to succeed in Formula One, especially in the long term.”

The van der Garde signing means Sergey Sirotkin, the Russian who had been rumored for a race seat and was confirmed as just a test driver, will be second on the pecking order to van der Garde if a race opportunity arises during the season. Sirotkin is also set for a full season in Formula Renault 3.5.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”