We’ve just entered March, which means we’re two months away from the season opener at the Hockenheimring in Germany. What do we know so far about the upcoming season and what are the most important changes?
Let’s start with one of the biggest changes: we are going to start the season without Mercedes – for the first time since 2000. In 2017 the manufacturer announced that they would pull out of DTM to focus on the all-electric series, Formula E, which they are entering for the 2019-2020 season.
For a long time, the organizers have been looking for a third manufacturer to join the series and in October the announcement was made that this manufacturer would be Aston Martin.
The British mark will partner with HWA, who have years of experience thanks to their work with Mercedes. So, this partnership is going to be very important in the process of developing the new Vantage car.
The next thing we know is that for the first time, DTM will race with ‘Class one’ regulations. These are the same regulations as used by the Japanese Super GT championship. This brings some big changes with it, including a lot of aerodynamical changes, a wider rear wing and of course, the new 4-cylinder, 2-litre turbo engine – a bit different from last year’s 8-cylinder engine. We’re expecting top-speeds of 300 km/h or more, depending on the race.
As we mentioned, there are aerodynamical changes to the rear wing for this season. It is a new, wider and more simple horizontal plate than years before and the same as in Super GT.
Sticking with the rear wing, at first, there were talks about whether or not to use DRS this season. In the end, DRS is still here but with a few changes. In previous years the driver could use their DRS when they were 1 second behind the driver in front of them. This year, they’ve upped the window to 3 seconds.
There is a completely new rule though – in the last 5 laps of the race, drivers will be able to use DRS regardless of the gap with the driver in front of them. This is to make the final stages of the race even more exciting and hopefully allow more overtaking.
Another addition to the series is the push-to-pass system. You may have come across it before – it’s already used in IndyCar. To elaborate on the system: additional fuel is injected into the engine for a short period of time, by a fuel mass flow restrictor, giving the car more power, 30 hp to be exact. Drivers may use this boost up to 12 times in a race.
The weight of the car will be reduced from 1031 kg to 981 kg, this is without fuel or driver. So that’s 50 kg less than in 2018. This too will help to create faster cars than in previous years.
Another small but important change: the well-known Deutsche Post number plate will disappear because there are more cooling systems needed with the turbo engine.
In a video posted on the Audi Sport YouTube channel, Mike Rockenfeller said:
“The 4-cylinder turbo engine is, of course, the biggest change. I’d say it’s the most significant change I’ve ever experienced in DTM.”
“The naturally aspirated 8-cylinder was limited to 500 hp due to the air restrictor. But now the turbo engine that has less displacement and 4 fewer cylinders has completely different characteristics in terms of smoothness and an increase of around 100 hp.”
“The lap times will be about 2-3 seconds faster, that’s a big difference.”
About the sound of the new engines Rockenfeller said the following:
“It’s still very noisy in the car. When you change down or roll into a corner, it rattles a lot.”
“You just can’t fail to notice that you have a lot of power. It’s a completely different sound from the past, but a very nice one.”
Finally, some other changes about the race tracks and time schedules. There are 2 new race tracks added to the calendar, Assen in the Netherlands and Zolder in Belgium. It will be the first time in history DTM cars will race at Assen. The circuit is well-known for its popular MotoGP race.
The format will also be changing somewhat. In 2018 there were two free practice sessions, one on Saturday morning and one on Sunday morning. This year, both practice sessions will take place on Friday thanks to a tighter time schedule. But there will be no changes to qualifying or the race. All races this season start at the same time, 13.30 local time. This means that there will be no night race in Misano this year, unlike last year.
Pre-season testing is already underway, with all three manufacturers running this year’s contenders at Jerez, Spain. We have an exciting season ahead to look forward to, so make sure to watch the season opener at the Hockenheimring from 3-5 May.