The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) becomes the last of the major international touring car championships to kick off its 2011 championship season, with Hockenheim playing host as the season-opener in the longstanding Mercedes-Benz vs Audi battle.
And of course Richard’s F1 will be providing you with the latest results and analysis from what will be an entertaining weekend in Germany – let’s have a look at the form guide…
With this being the final season under which the championship will run with its frozen regulations, with the new rules kicking in next year. And while this should mean that the spread from the front to the back of the grid should be tiny, there are still a few factors that will mix up the expected running order in 2011.
The biggest change to the series is the switch from Dunlop to Hanook tyres. But with the sport’s rules meaning that neither Audi nor Mercedes is allowed to amend their cars to suit the potential change in moving from one tyre supplier to another, Hanook has instead constructed a tyre that is very similar to Dunlop’s DTM-spec tyres.
Pre-season tests have indicated this to be the case, although the proof will very much be in the eating, with this being the first time since Shanghai’s season-ending race that both marques will share the same piece of tarmac. The most miniscule of changes in tyre characteristics could favour certain drivers, cars makes and even models – great for spicing up the action on-track…
Audi will certainly be hoping that this uncertainty over the tyres will work to its benefit, with the carmaker eager to bounce back after a difficult season where Mercedes-Benz cleaned up in most races.
Last year, Gary Paffett headed a Mercedes-Benz 1-2-3-4, and the McLaren test driver will be hoping for more of the same to kick off his 2011 championship campaign, especially with last year’s champion Paul di Resta now in Formula 1 with Force India.
For this weekend, the drivers will run on the F1 version layout of the Hermann Tilke shortened version of the Hockenheim circuit in a single 38-lap race, and we’ll bring you the action from qualifying and the race!