In an attempt to improve the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, series‘ governing body is under restructuration and appointed Gerhard Berger as its new boss.
Former Formula 1 driver and team co-owner Berger will replace Hans Werner Aufrecht, who led ITR for over 30 years. The Austrian will return to the managerial role for the first time since he left the FIA single-seater commission at the end of 2014.
Commenting on his new role, Berger said: “I started my motor-racing career in touring car racing and always followed DTM with a lot of interest. DTM is a top-class product with independent, powerful regulations, with strong manufacturers, top sponsors, important international partnerships and many fans.
This is a good starting point with great potential for the future. The first task I will focus on in the coming weeks is gaining a deeper insight into the details with the support of my colleagues. We will then use this strong basis for creating a joint strategy for the future. While doing so, I consider the further development of our international partnerships – also with regards to new manufacturers –, spectacular racing cars that also command the drivers’ respect as well as a format combining both sport and entertainment as particularly important”.
Although Berger himself ran in only one DTM race (8th place in Zolder 1985), he is connected to the series through his nephew Lucas Auer who will spend his third season as a Mercedes-AMG driver this year.
All three manufacturers of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters came to Vallelunga for a three-day test. It was the first time the cars were present in the fully homologated 2017 spec.
Audi Sport brought to Italy Mattias Ekström and Jamie Green. It was Ekström who gave the new RS 5 DTM first public laps and was very pleased with the experience:
“We tried out a lot of different things: short stints, long runs, qualifying simulations and many different set-up variants. The new DTM cars are definitely more demanding in terms of driving skills. Plus, finding a perfect set-up compromise for the softer tires and the changed aerodynamics is a great challenge. The season is going to be packed with excitement for sure!” Ekstrom commented.
Both Audi drivers covered 2121 kilometres between them.
Mercedes-AMG’s drivers Robert Wickens, Gary Paffett and Edoardo Mortara posted 518 laps between them, equating to 2116 km. The Stuttgart brand focused mainly on a better understanding of the new-for-2017 softer compound tyres from series’ supplier Hankook.
Head of the Mercedes-AMG’s programme Ulrich Fritz commented:
“The hard work has paid off so far with plenty of kilometres posted and data collected during two successful weeks of testing. Still, our work is far from over. We must now evaluate all the info, especially with regard to the new generation of tyres, and draw the right conclusions before final testing in Hockenheim.”
BMW Motorsport decided not to share much information about their participation in testing. The Bavarian brand brought to the track Maxime Martin and Tom Blomqvist, who are understood to have spent the three days understanding the behaviour of the new M4 DTM, which under the new rules was given more power and less downforce than its predecessor.
The last round of collective testing will take place in Hockenheim on 3-6 April. The same track will host the season opener on 6-7 May.
All three Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters manufacturers were present in Algarve for the last collective testing before the cars have to be submitted to homologation on March 1.
Audi Sport brought their former champion Mattias Ekström to perform the initial shakedown, before handing the RS 5 DTM to Loïc Duval and René Rast, both new full-season drivers in the series and Jamie Green, who took the car for the final of three days.
Mercedes-AMG also had a mix of experienced drivers and new signings. The Stuttgart-based brand focused on completing as many laps as possible with Gary Paffett, Paul di Resta and Audi refugee Edoardo Mortara. The three drivers together crossed the finish line 438 times.
BMW Motorsport was the only manufacturer to have only two drivers with Augusto Farfus and reigning series champion Marco Wittmann sharing the driving duties. The München-based squad focussed on getting to know the new for 2017 tyres which are much softer, as an effect of a tyre warmers ban.
The sessions were not timed and it is understood that not all cars were in their full 2017 trims.
This will change for the next collective test, which will take place in Italian Vallelunga on March 14-17.
Audi is the last Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters manufacturer to announce their team structure for the 2017 season.
For the first time since 2011, the DTM field will consist of only 18 cars, which comes as a result of an agreement between competing brands to run six cars each, instead of eight. While BMW and Mercedes-AMG took the opportunity to reduce the number of their teams to two and one respectively, Audi decided to keep all its existing outfits in place.
That move was possible as Hans-Jürgen Abt’s Team Abt Sportsline, which used to run four cars, will scale down its programme to two cars, in order to keep in line with Team Phoenix and Team Rosberg.
Each full-time 2016 driver will remain with their existing teams. Therefore, Mattias Ekström and Nico Müller will form the Abt squad, while Jamie Green and Mike Rockenfeller will lead Rosberg and Phoenix respectively. As for rookie goes, Loïc Duval will join Team Phoenix while René Rast will switch to Team Rosberg for his first full-season ride.
Rast and Duval also announced their race numbers – the German decided not to retain the #72 he used for a few races last year and chose to race with #33 while the French opted for #77.
Mercedes-AMG is the last of the three Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters manufacturers to announce driver line-ups for the 2017 season, which means that all 18 names are now known.
As each brand will enter six cars this year instead of eight, Mercedes-AMG had to lay off some drivers.
The Stuttgart marque decided to keep only half of last year’s squad. Christian Vietoris, Maximilian Götz and Daniel Juncadella will therefore no longer be part of the DTM effort.
The team decided to keep Garry Paffett, Lucas Auer, Robert Wickens and Paul di Resta. Paffett and di Resta are both former series champions whilst Auer and Wickens have six victories and seven pole positions between them. They will be joined by last year’s runner-up and long-time Audi driver Edoardo Mortara, who will be the only driver to switch brands during the off season, and Maro Engel. The German driver will return to DTM for the first time since 2011 and at the moment is the only Mercedes-AMG driver who is yet to stand on the podium.
In order to reduce costs, all six Mercedes-AMG’s cars will be run by Team HWA this year.
BMW was the first brand to announce its 2017 line-up consisted of current champion Marco Wittmann, Timo Glock, Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler, Tom Blomqvist and Maxime Martin, whilst Mattias Ekström, Nico Müller, Jamie Green, René Rast, Mike Rockenfeller and Loïc Duval will form the Audi team.
The 2017 DTM season will start in Hockenheim on 6-7 May.