The 2016 Stock Car Brasil champion has been included in the Red Bull DTM line-up this year after Liam Lawson decided to focus on Formula 2, racing the AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo.

Fast forward to limited pre-season testing, Frago took the podium at his second start in the series at Portimao and took a dominant victory on the streets of Norrisring in the fourth round of the season.

However, the Brazilian’s first year in the DTM was also marred by a number of retirements, with the 27-year-old seeing the checkered flag just seven times during the 16-race campaign.

His run of DNFs included five in a row before a breakthrough win at the Norrisring, due to a puncture on the restart in the first part of the Portimao double header, a freak fire in qualifying at the Lausitzring, power steering problems and a collision with Lucas Auer at Imola and Esteban Muto’s first- the Norrisring races.

Frago said he could be pleased with how he performed in his move to DTM this year, even if his run of misfortune meant he only finished 16th in the championship, three places behind team-mate Nick Cassidy. who participated in two rounds less.

“I think the performance was good,” Frago told Autosport.

“I think if you look at qualifying and our results, I’ve been in the top five many, many times. So this is good, it shows that we are capable of doing good.

“To win a race in my first season, to take pole, it’s not bad at all.

Podium: Race winner Felipe Fraga, AF Corse

Photo: Alexander Traynits

“I think I’ve been really unlucky this year. We need to see it and analyze it properly to understand which ones [incidents] I could avoid the ones I couldn’t.

“It hurts a little bit for me because I started that season not so sure, but I was quick straight away in Portimao.

“Then I created a lot of expectations and it wasn’t very good because I suffered a lot during the year because of bad accidents, the car that caught fire at the Lausitzring, many, many things.

“I’m tired of listening to these “lucky people”.

Fraga also lost at least 18 points when Lamborghini’s Mirco Bartolotti was sent off as they battled for the lead at the Nürburgring, an incident which saw the Italian handed a five-place penalty.

Fraga’s only major unforced error came during the final qualifying session of the season at Hockenheim, when he crashed into the barrier at Turn 1 one second after taking provisional pole.

When asked if he would have fought for the championship if it weren’t for his luck, Frago said: “Definitely. If you take two results, I could be there.

“Just an accident in Imola [after he’d led early on] and some other failure will easily give me 50 points. [But] I don’t really like to say that I could or would.”

Felipe Frago, AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo

Felipe Frago, AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo

Photo: Andreas Beil

Fraga said that his success in the DTM was welcomed by Red Bull and that the energy drink giant also supported him during his difficult period in the series.

“It’s been good,” he said of his relationship with Red Bull.

“I have to be really grateful to Red Bull for that, because at some point even I doubted this failure.

“Sometimes I try to find what happened, even with the help of what I could not avoid. But they were very, very good to me.

“They never put pressure on me, they always supported me very well with all these bad results and I think they really believed in my ability to do well, so it also makes my life more peaceful to try to perform” .