The Nürburgring is one of the most evocative locations in motorsport. In the shadow of the 20km Nordschleife, or ‘Green Hell’, the DTM arrives for the series’ 81st and 82nd races at the equally iconic .
The west-German circuit has appeared on every DTM calendar since the championship’s inauguration and, with events held on three differing layouts, is only second in terms of races held to Hockenheim.
The series arrives for this weekend with the title fight between two Audi drivers, Team Rosberg’s René Rast and Team Abt Sportslines’ Nico Müller, is well and truly ignited with only four races to go.
The GP-Strecke Short circuit at the Nürburgring presents drivers with a challenging layout that encourages racing and demands commitment.
The first corner presents the greatest overtaking opportunity as drivers drop the anchor from near 280kmh to crawl through the opening hairpin.
Through the tricky Mercedes Arena or turns 2,3 and 4, drivers must have complete car control as the circuit undulates, as well as be aware of anyone making a passing attempt.
The circuit the turns hard right at Turn 5, short-cutting the bottom part of the circuit, and rejoining the ‘GP-Strecke’ at Turns 10 and 11, or in the DTM’s case, Turns 6 and 7.
Another left, and right, similar to Turns 5 and 6 leads drivers downhill and onto a flat out section before braking hard into the T9-10 chicane.
Exit from the Warsteiner-Kurve at T7 is crucial as the long run to the upcoming chicane presents the last real overtaking opportunity, and with DRS and push-to-pass the chicane will be a hotspot for action.
The final corner at Turn 11 is a long radius, right-hander where exit is crucial to be able to attack or defend down the start/finish straight and into the hairpin at Turn 1.
The two races last year saw the beginning of one of the most impressive winning streaks of recent motorsport history.
Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s René Rast scored a perfect weekend, with two poles and two wins, as the 2017 champion scored the first of six consecutive race wins to take the title fight to Mercedes Gary Paffett.
What to expect
The Nürburgring is part of the core of DTM, and as such always seems to produce some excellent racing.
As the 18 car grid arrive at the Turn 1 hairpin, drama is likely not far away. Expect someone to make daring moves, someone to be unlucky with an incident, and a third to not be happy with another’s driving.
Tyre strategy will play it’s usual part this weekend as the high-commitment corners will place added stress on the tyres. At the Lausitzring we saw the importance of having fresher Hankook rubber than your opponent.
Additionally the Nürburgring is home to almost it’s own microclimate. Temperatures here can rise and fall, and even be as low as 13C during the summer months, placing additional demands on the tyres as well as demanding attentiveness from teams and drivers.
This weekend at the Nürburgring is crucial to the championship. If Rast suffers another non-score then Müller will need to maximise his position to reduce the points deficit. On the other hand, a strong weekend for Rast could see him put one hand on the 2019 trophy.