Hans Werner Aufrecht, chairman of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) rights holder ITR e.V., has confirmed that from 2015 the option tyre rule in the championship will be ditched, saying that “races have to be decided behind the steering wheel”.
The DTM came under heavy criticism in 2014 for the way in which the outcome of races were decided, with victories being secured in several races (Oschersleben, Moscow Raceway and Zandvoort) simply down to the timing of the safety car and drivers’ pitstop strategies. There was also significant controversy at the Spielberg race in August, when Mercedes’ Robert Wickens was disqualified from the race for failing to serve a drive-through penalty given for an incident during the pitstop phase of the race.
“The demands from the fans have to be more in the focus of our activities again,” explained Aufrecht. “The many letters, e-mails and messages on the social networks that reached us during the season show one thing in particular: the races have to be decided behind the steering wheel and not behind the computer, and even less behind the green table.
“From the halfway point of the season, we have had regular meetings with various commissions in order to decide on substantial steps. The manufacturers competing in the DTM are involved, and so are the DMSB, our television partner ARD and the DTM drivers.
“At the moment, we are collecting many ideas that we will convert into proposals and decisions in the next weeks. In that process, I have to ask for some patience, because all the changes to the sporting format and to the regulations have to be considered carefully.”
Aufrecht also revealed that the DTM calendar is still some way off being finalised for 2015 – a process which in previous years has already been completed by the end of the season.
“Accordingly, I am afraid I also have to disappoint all those who are already announcing calendars and race formats. Definitely, no decisions have been made yet, because we haven’t even discussed all the proposals yet. The message sent out by the friends of the DTM has reached us, and now, we quietly want to turn it into reality.”
Many drivers have been critical of the option tyre regulations creating artificial races in 2014 and Aufrecht confirms that these will no longer be part of the package for next season.
“We will no longer have option tyres, there is consensus on that,” added Aufrecht. “Our tyre partner Hankook has produced a nearly perfect tyre that the drivers really liked. However, it didn’t bring the additional excitement to the races that we wanted.
“This season, there were basically two halves of the races that admittedly were clearer than last year, but not perfect yet. I want to achieve that a TV spectator who is probably a few minutes late in switching on, will find his way into the race action right away and knows who will be challenging for victory at the front of the field.”
Aufrecht also addressed the criticism levelled at championship officials following the controversial disqualification of Wickens in the race at the Red Bull Ring in August and the other penalties which have been handed out over the course of the season.
“I am not one of these people who blame the referee when he is making too many or too few calls,” explained the 75-year-old. “Race control is only there to enforce the rules that we have created together.
“With the same determination, however, I also say that we have to make the regulations easier and more transparent. That is what the representatives of the manufacturers and the DMSB officials are currently working on with great commitment. The drivers are involved in this process, too, because they are the ones who have to race with these regulations behind the steering wheel.”