The DTM in its particular form is unique. It is the only racing series in the world that is exclusively dedicated to factory-backed teams and in which every one of the 24 drivers has the potential for winning. The three leading German premium manufacturers – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – are battling each other in fierce duels on the race track. Behind the scenes, they jointly work on continually developing and optimizing the series.
In 2015, the DTM largely reinvented itself. Since then, there have been two races per weekend, amounting to a double dose of action for the fans. Saturday and Sunday are separate race days, each with free practice, warm-up and qualifying sessions, and races. The motto is: “Keep it simple.” In qualifying, every driver has 20 minutes for delivering a fast lap and securing a good grid position. The first race on Saturday lasts 40 minutes – without a mandatory pit stop. Sunday’s race is 60 minutes, plus one lap, and every car has to pit once for a tire change.
For the teams and drivers, the format that was introduced last year means a great strain. “On Saturday and Sunday, there’s hardly a chance to take a breather,” says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “Important decisions have to be made in a very short time. But the new format has proved successful. The fans simply get to see a lot more. Plus, 13 different victories in the 18 races of the season speak for themselves. “
A need for optimization existed with the so-called performance weights and the use of the drag reduction system (DRS). As the further development of the cars during the season is prohibited in the DTM for cost reasons, results-depending additional weights ensure maximum equality of opportunity. For 2016, the formula for weight allocation has been refined in order to counteract block formation of the manufacturers. In addition, the weights are now no longer re-calculated from one race weekend to another but for each race, and no longer related to the driver, but to the brand. The organizers expect this change to produce even greater variety.
The DRS introduced in the DTM in 2013 makes it possible for the driver to temporarily lower the angle of the car’s rear wing and, due to the reduced aerodynamic drag, to be faster on the straights. New DRS rules aim to intensify the drivers’ use of the rear wing flap for overtaking maneuvers compared with previous practice.
“During the winter we intensively looked at how the races could be made even more thrilling for the fans,” says Dieter Gass. “I believe that together we came up with some good solutions that are going to make racing even more attractive.”
The character of the two race days has remained unchanged. Due to the shorter race and the lacking mandatory pit stop, qualifying on Saturday is particularly important. In the longer race, including a tire change on Sunday, the right strategy is equally important as the mechanics’ perfect work. Ideally, it takes the pit crew less than three seconds to change all four wheels of an Audi RS 5 DTM.
The 2016 DTM Champion is determined at nine events in a total of 18 races. For all 18 rounds, identical points are awarded in spite of the differences in race duration. All races are broadcast live on “Das Erste” in Germany. In n-tv and Sport1, the DTM has two more strong international TV partners. Around the globe, more than 100 countries air live or delayed-as-live broadcasts of the DTM. On YouTube, the DTM can be watched live in many countries as well.
At the venues, 70,778 spectators on average watched DTM events last year. At six events in 2016, the Audi Sport TT Cup will be represented again with two races each as part of the supporting program. In the Audi one-make cup that will additionally be held before the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, Audi has been providing international young drivers an opportunity to enter motorsport since last season.
Besides the city street race at the Norisring, the season opener at Hockenheim featuring a visit of the FIA World Rallycross Championship and the DTM weekend at the Lausitzing with a round of the ADAC GT Masters and the Superbike motorcycles are special highlights on the DTM calendar.