Berger: Addition of top teams vindicates DTM's GT3 move

DTM boss Gerhard Berger says the addition of top sportscar racing teams from Europe and Asia has vindicated the championship's decision to adopt GT3 regulations for this season.

Berger: Addition of top teams vindicates DTM's GT3 move

Following the announcement last April that Audi would leave the DTM at the end of 2020, the German championship was forced to abandon the hi-tech silhouette cars that had given it a distinct identity in a crowded touring car racing arena.

Series promoter ITR’s original plan was to run beefed-up GT3 cars in 2021 as part of what it referred to as the 'GT Pro' formula, but it quietly settled for standard GT3 regulations following opposition from manufacturers to upgrade their existing offerings.

This was met with criticism from some quarters, with fans and even former DTM drivers questioning how the series would differentiate itself from other GT3-based championships, especially its homegrown rival ADAC GT Masters.

But the DTM has so far managed to assemble a promising line-up of teams and manufacturers, attracting Nurburgring and Spa 24 Hours-winning BMW outfit Rowe Racing, top Ferrari squad AF Corse, and Mercedes customers GruppeM, Winward Motorsport and Haupt Racing among others.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes have all pledged their factory support for the series, with Mercedes also believed to be bringing a substantial budget to assist its customers.

Several top-level drivers have also been confirmed for the DTM's first season under GT3 regulations, with the likes of Alex Albon, Nick Cassidy and Christian Klien joining established stars like Mike Rockenfeller, Nico Muller and Timo Glock.

AF Corse Alpha Tauri design for Alex Albon and Nick Cassidy

AF Corse Alpha Tauri design for Alex Albon and Nick Cassidy

Photo by: Red Bull Media House

Speaking as part of Motorsport Network’s #ThinkingForward series of interviews, Berger believes the championship has once again proved that it is the place to be for professional teams and drivers despite the move to standard GT3 machinery.

“DTM stands for professional race drivers sitting in the cars,” Berger said. “So you have the highest level of drivers coming into the touring car, GT racing. You have the best teams. If you look at our list of who entered the field, it is the best teams existing in these categories.

“Look at Audi for example, they have Abt. That was the team in Class One, exactly the same. That's their factory team. With Ferrari we have AF Corse, it is their strongest factory team.

“When you look at Mercedes, it's the best teams. So DTM is known as the highest competitive series in this kind of business.”

Berger expects the pace difference between Class One and GT3 cars to be minimal, and hopes the new regulations will continue to attract more manufacturers into the category.

The DTM featured a three-way rivalry after BMW joined the category in 2012, but it was down to just two marques last year after Mercedes and its quasi-replacement R-Motorsport Aston Martin quit the series in successive years.

“Class One was a fantastic ruleset, I love it,” Berger. “The reason why I love it is because you could see motorsport without BoP (Balance of Performance) and still having a competitive field and wheel to wheel fighting. That's what fans love to see.

Jamie Green, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM

Jamie Green, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

“And BoP is something we all don't like too much. But if you have different kinds of concepts, technical concepts, you need it. So I understand that some people prefer Class One.

“But at the end of the day, the difference is very small, because the cars look the same. Maybe the cars looks even better as a GT3 car because it really looks like a Mercedes, it really looks like a BMW, it really looks like an Audi, which was missing before.

“Then the big thing [we wanted] for many years was we should have more brands, manufacturers on our platform. Lap time-wise, it's very close to the Class One. We are talking about three, four or five seconds difference, but it's more or less the same.”

shares
comments

Related video

BMW star Wittmann remains in DTM with Walkenhorst
Previous article

BMW star Wittmann remains in DTM with Walkenhorst

Next article

Paffett returns to DTM as Mercedes names full line-up

Paffett returns to DTM as Mercedes names full line-up
The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality Plus

The longest-serving Red Bull driver revealing F1’s true brutality

His day of days in Formula 1 came at Indianapolis in 2005, a day grand prix racing strives to forget. But Patrick Friesacher, the long-serving Red Bull lieutenant, remains active today driving a two-seater that provides ordinary people with a glimpse of an F1 car’s savage potential, including this writer...

Formula 1
Jun 2, 2022
How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir Plus

How the DTM has come back stronger from its Norisring nadir

OPINION: Questionable driving standards and farcical team orders meant the DTM's first season under GT3 regulations ended under a cloud. But the organisation has responded firmly by banning team orders and welcomed new manufacturers, making for an intriguing season ahead as new and returning names prepare for battle

DTM
Mar 30, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

GT
Mar 5, 2022
The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival Plus

The other Hamilton conqueror seeking career revival

On his rise through the ranks before reaching Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton was usually a cut above the rest. But he never truly asserted himself over a Mercedes-backed fellow Briton who traded single-seaters for touring cars and is now seeking new opportunities after a year largely spent on the sidelines

DTM
Dec 18, 2021
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Plus

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream" Plus

How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Plus

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Plus

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021