Last year marked the series’ first year under GT3 regulations. A complete new DTM you could say. Today we take a look at what happened in 2021’s season, including some controversies.
Opinions varied ahead of the 2021 season, after all the big changes that were made. A completely new series was born, you could say. We said goodbye to Class One cars, as they got too expensive for manufacturers over the years. A new path was taken with GT3 cars and regulations. Which was a big opportunity for other manufacturers, who already had GT3 cars. for example, in other series. The interest in the series appeared to still be high, as the series managed to attract big names and new brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini.
In 2021 we had five manufacturers who completed a full season. Audi, BMW and Mercedes were back, not new to the series as they fought with each other in the past. Ferrari and Lamborghini joined. Plus, big brands Porsche and McLaren also made their debuts in the series, but just for a couple of rounds. Nearly every manufacturer had a driver fighting for the title until the end of the season, which shows how competitive last year was. Fans were surprised and stunned by all the multi-manufacturer battles on track. Meaning, Gerhard Berger did a good job with every single change he and the ITR made.
With the changes that were made to switch to customer teams, there was a fear we would see some pay drivers on the grid. Though, this wasn’t the case. Some drivers stayed in the series, such as Mike Rockenfeller (Audi), Marco Wittmann (BMW), Nico Mueller (Audi) and Timo Glock (BMW). A big name missing – 2020 champion Rene Rast. There wasn’t lack of talent at all. Some new faces on the grid as Liam Lawson, Alexander Albon and Nick Cassidy. Also, some familiar faces from other GT series came to DTM. One of the biggest stars of the past couple years, South African Kelvin van der Linde. As well as Maximilian Gotz and Philip Ellis. A special mention to Mirko Bortolotti, who was a guest driver at the races in Assen and even managed to finish on the podium.
Another thing that was completely new in DTM – the much hated BoP, or better known as Balance of Performance. It’s a controversial system, leading to teams thinking they are treated unfairly on some occasions. For example at the opening race at Monza. BMW complained and it appeared that the series had been graded incorrectly. Another technical change – no overtaking aids such as DRS and push-to-pass. Like this, drivers were dependent on their own talents and overtaking maneuvers. This resulted in close and tight battles and overtaking in other place than just on the straights like in the past years. This year cars were significantly slower though compared to past years.
It wasn’t always fair racing in 2021. Driving standards weren’t always that high. Meaning, lots of on-track battles resulting in collisions or DNF’s. A very angry Rockenfeller for example, saying Lawson was losing his mind after their crash. Unfortunately, many of these cases happened this year. Also in the title deciding race at the Norisring when drivers tried to help their teammates or themselves. In general, battles were hard but fair, but some were unacceptable for a series and drivers like in DTM.
While heading into the final race weekend of the year at the Norisring, four drivers could still win the championship. van der Linde (Audi), who had the advantage in the beginning of the season. Lawson (Ferrari), who managed to turn the tables and be alongside van der Linde at the top of the ranking. Gotz (Mercedes), who was steady all season long. And finally Wittmann (BMW). So, unlike the past couple of years, it was an interesting fight between multiple manufacturers. Something every fan appreciated.
It would have been an amazing ending of the season, but the contrary happened. One of the most controversial season finales as a result of poor driving standards. Van der Linde made a move at the start of the last race on championship leader Lawson. The Ferrari driver could not continue and van der Linde only got a five-second penalty for it. For deciding the championship like this. The young Lawson deserved to win after creating a gap of 19 points heading into the final weekend.
Both did not win the championship. Mercedes’ Gotz did, after using his teammates thanks to team orders. Something that should not be allowed anymore, after what happened in previous seasons. Van der Linde apologized for his actions, but obviously Lawson was furious. It made the fans angry, so much that they sent hate messages and even death threats to van der Linde.
So, even though this new DTM did not disappoint, the change was big. Also, for most fans it was weird to see these type of cars in the series instead of the Class One cars. DTM still exists, but somehow it didn’t really feel like it. Though, it was worth it tuning in every race weekend. There are still some changes that need to be made, even more so after the season finale.