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 RichardsF1.com 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.
This 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.
|2012 DTM CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF HOCKENHEIM (I)
|Date:||27-29 April 2012|
|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.
BMW 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.
The 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.
The 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 complete 2012 entry list reads as follows:
|No.||Driver||Team / Entry|
|1.||Martin Tomczyk||Team RMG / BMW M3 DTM|
|2.||Joey Hand||Team RMG / BMW M3 DTM|
|3.||Mattias Ekström||Abt Sportsline / Audi A5 DTM|
|4.||Timo Scheider||Abt Sportsline / Audi A5 DTM|
|5.||Jamie Green||HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|6.||Ralf Schumacher||HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|7.||Bruno Spengler||Team Schnitzer / BMW M3 DTM|
|8.||Dirk Werner||Team Schnitzer / BMW M3 DTM|
|9.||Mike Rockenfeller||Phoenix Racing / Audi A5 DTM|
|10.||Miguel Molina||Phoenix Racing / Audi A5 DTM|
|11.||Gary Paffett||HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|12.||Christian Vietoris||HWA Team / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|15.||Andy Priaulx||Team RBM / BMW M3 DTM|
|16.||Augusto Farfus Jr||Team RBM / BMW M3 DTM|
|17.||Rahel Frey||Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A5 DTM|
|18.||Adrien Tambay||Audi Sport Team Abt / Audi A5 DTM|
|19.||David Coulthard||Mücke Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|20.||Robert Wickens||Mücke Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|21.||Edoardo Mortara||Team Rosberg / Audi A5 DTM|
|22.||Filipe Albuquerque||Team Rosberg / Audi A5 DTM|
|23.||Susie Wolff||Persson Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
|24.||Robert Merhi||Persson Motorsport / DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé|
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 RichardsF1.com your one-stop shop for all of the latest DTM news and analysis!