New cars, new regulations and new drivers - how will the 2012 DTM championship season play out?

The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) becomes the last of the major international touring car series to kick off its 2012 season, with this year’s championship marking a new dawn for the tin-top racers.

Not only does 2012 mark a new chapter in the series’ technical and sporting regulations, but also a return to three manufacturers with BMW making a long-awaited return to the scene after a twenty-year absence.

And of course will be providing you with the latest results and analysis from what will hopefully be closely-fought weekend in Germany – let’s have a look at the form guide…

A new dawn for the DTM

The first of two major changes to this year’s championship is in the sporting regulations, with the series doing away with its customary two-tier specification cars (where the manufacturers could present a mix of older- and newer-specification cars).

Gone will be the disadvantage that some drivers had in running older-spec machinery, although last year’s championship season was an exception to that rule, with Martin Tomczyk romping to the title despite being saddled with an older-spec Audi.

Another change is the series’ points system, which will now follow Formula 1’s points structure and award points to the top-ten finishers in light of this year’s field expanding from 18 to 22 cars. This should also prevent one driver from running away with an early points lead that ultimately proves insurmountable. Points will now be awarded as follows: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1.

BMW makes its long-awaited return to the DTM championshipThis year also sees the introduction of brand new cars for all manufacturers, designed on a single-sprung chassis with customised bodywork with drastically reduced aerodynamics for each manufacturer. The end result has led to a reduction in costs and an improvement in driver safety, and it should hopefully lead to closer racing and more overtaking.

The other major talking point is the return of BMW after a twenty-year absence from the series. It’s new M3 DTM challenger has proven to be reasonably on the pace in pre-season testing, but the proof will be in its proper track action at Hockenheim.

Circuit Guide

Hockenheim Circuit Map
Date: 27-29 April 2012
Lap Length: 4.574km
Race Lap Record: 1:33.576, Paul di Resta (Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2008) – 2008
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 Fri 13:40-15:10
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 09:10-10:50
Qualifying Session Sat 13:40-14:50
Sunday Warm-Up Sun 10:20-10:50
Race (40 laps, 183km) Sun 14:00-15:15

The Hockenheim circuit will again serve as the bookend races for the 2012 championship season.

The 22-car field will run on the traditional Grand Prix layout designed by Hermann Tilke. It’s a track design that’s generally conducive to overtaking, particularly into the tight hairpin at the end of the circuit’s longest flat-out blast, the Parabolika.

It’s hard work in tyres, and the left-hand-side tyres take particular punishment over the course of a race.

Movers and shakers driver market

There’s also been plenty of movement in the off-season, with BMW (in particular) poaching two high-profile stars from their rival carmakers. Reigning champion Martin Tomczyk has taken on a massive challenge to defend his title by moving to the Munich carmaker, while Mercedes stalwart and perpetual championship bridesmaid Bruno Spengler has also jumped ship.

Three-time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx makes his return to tin-top racingBMW will also welcome the return of three-time World Touring Car Championship winner Andy Priaulx and his former team-mate Augusto Farfus. Both will race for Bart Manpaey’s RBM outfit, returning to the operation that brought the pair so much success in the WTCC.

BMW also fields two DTM debutants, with Dirk Werner joining Spengler at BMW Team Schnitzer and American Le Mans racer Joey Hand joining Tomczyk at the RMG team.

Audi has trimmed its operation from nine to eight cars, losing Tomczyk to BMW in the off-season while also dispensing with the services of underperforming Brit Oliver Jarvis.

Blessed with newer-spec machinery and a level playing field, Rahel Frey has been quick in pre-season testingThe carmaker has also splits its operation into four teams, with the Abt Sports team running a senior (Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider) and junior (Rahel Frey and Adrien Tambay) team, along with Phoenix Racing (Mike Rockenfeller and Miguel Molina) and Team Rosberg (Edoardo Mortara and Filipe Albuquerque).

Frenchman Adrien Tambay (son of former F1 winner Patrick) is the outfit’s only rookie driver.

Mercedes has also reduced its entry list by one car, and its line-up looks to be the most closely competitive, which could spell trouble if their drivers start pinching points off one another.

Its frontline team is its four-car HWA operation, which hosts British racers Gary Paffett and Jamie Green, along with German runners Ralf Schumacher and Christian Vietoris.

Mercedes remains the DTM's most successful manufacturer overall and at HockenheimThe Mücke Motorsport team sees a mix of old and new, with former F1 winner David Coulthard staying on board for his third season in the series, and he’ll be joined by the hugely impressive Canadian racer Robert Wickens (winner of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship), who makes his DTM debut. German driver Maro Engel was not kept on board.

And the Persson Motorsport squad keeps Scottish racer Susie Wolff on for another year, and she’ll be joined by Spanish driver Roberto Merhi, who also makes his DTM debut. The team farewelled Dutch racer Renger van der Zande, who was unable to raise sufficient sponsorship to keep his seat.

The class of 2012

The complete 2012 entry list reads as follows:

No. Driver Team / Entry
1. Martin Tomczyk DEU Team RMG / BMW M3 DTM BMW
2. Joey Hand USA Team RMG / BMW M3 DTM BMW
3. Mattias Ekström SWE Abt Sportsline / Audi A5 DTM Audi
4. Timo Scheider DEU Abt Sportsline / Audi A5 DTM Audi
5. Jamie Green GBR HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
6. Ralf Schumacher DEU HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
7. Bruno Spengler CAN Team Schnitzer / BMW M3 DTM BMW
8. Dirk Werner DEU Team Schnitzer / BMW M3 DTM BMW
9. Mike Rockenfeller DEU Phoenix Racing / Audi A5 DTM Audi
10. Miguel Molina ESP Phoenix Racing / Audi A5 DTM Audi
11. Gary Paffett GBR HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
12. Christian Vietoris DEU HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
15. Andy Priaulx GBR Team RBM / BMW M3 DTM BMW
16. Augusto Farfus Jr BRA Team RBM / BMW M3 DTM BMW
17. Rahel Frey SUI Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A5 DTM Audi
18. Adrien Tambay FRA Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A5 DTM Audi
19. David Coulthard GBR Mücke Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
20. Robert Wickens CAN Mücke Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
21. Edoardo Mortara ITA Team Rosberg / Audi A5 DTM Audi
22. Filipe Albuquerque POR Team Rosberg / Audi A5 DTM Audi
23. Susie Wolff GBR Persson Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes
24. Robert Merhi ESP Persson Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé Mercedes

The three manufacturers' cars of yesteryear!


Facts, Stats & Predictions

While BMW may have ended its DTM tenure at Hockenheim with a win twenty years ago, few are expecting to M3 challengers to threaten the top-step of the podium this weekend.

Mercedes has enjoyed the most success at the circuit, winning 31 of the 64 championship races held on the circuit’s various configurations over the years.

Audi, meanwhile, will be looking to open its 2012 account strongly in its bid to defend the Drivers’ and Teams’ championships it earned last year.

Ultimately, we’ll have to wait to see how the competition shakes itself out with some proper track running, kickstarting today with the opening practice session.

Of course, we’ll be covering all of the action from Hockenheim this weekend and for the rest of the season, so make your one-stop shop for all of the latest DTM news and analysis!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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