DTM drivers have praised the German series’ new Drag Reduction System (DRS) initiative which has been tested this week in Barcelona testing, with most predicting an increase in overtaking moves as a result.
Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were present at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain this week completing four days of testing for the new Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season. As part of the test, all teams trialled the series’ new DTM system, which is intended to improve the racing and increase overtaking.
The series’ official use of DRS has not yet been confirmed, with an official announcement expected on the back of testing data collected in Spain.
“The DRS rear wing is noticeable,” said series veteran Timo Scheider, who has competed in the championship since 2000. “I think the time has come to change something. The fans want to see overtaking. DRS and option tyres will help this.”
In addition to the DRS system, drivers were also getting to grips with the new option tyre which is to be introduced this season. The tyre, supplied by Hankook, will feature a softer compound than the normal DTM tyres and will feature a yellow marking to show the fans when a driver is using it. Estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 seconds a lap faster, drivers and teams will have to approach DTM races in 2013 with even more of a strategic view.
“The option tyre and DRS are definitely a step in the right direction,” added Audi’s Filipe Albuquerque. “The ITR [DTM organising body] is doing something to improve action on the race track – this deserves recognition. DRS will allow us to get closer to the car in front and fight side by side.”
A side effect of the variables being tested by the teams is that the teams and drivers’ true pace has been masked somewhat, a fact reiterated by Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller.
“It’s very difficult to assess the lap times with all these new things like DRS rear wing and option tyres”, explained Rockenfeller. “You just don’t know whose using what. DRS has functioned perfectly so far and brings a lot – more speed on the straights and faster lap times. The aim is to provide more overtaking opportunities – this is fantastic for us drivers and at the end of the day for the spectators as well.”
Reigning champion Bruno Spengler says that the DRS system will take some time to get used to, with speeds increasing on the straights. Unlike in Formula 1, where the DRS is activated by opening one of the rear-wing panels, the DRS system being trialled by the DTM involves the rotation of the entire rear-wing to create a lower angle.
“The DRS is definitely a lot of fun for every racing driver,” said Spengler. “You clearly feel you can shift up earlier and that the top speed on the straights is higher. That’s something you have to get used to and, therefore, you have to work lap by lap on finding the limit. That’s why the test here in Barcelona – and also the one held in Hockenheim – are so important.”
Although almost all drivers praised the new system, several drivers were quick to point out that the effect of the wing will not be as visible as that seen in F1. “The effect won’t be as big as in Formula 1 and overtaking not easy,” admitted Audi’s Jamie Green. “However, the DRS will help with overtaking.”
The final pre-season DTM tests take place at the Hockenheimring between the 9th and 12th April 2013.