Berger: "Too early" to discuss DTM returning to popular Imola

DTM drivers and teams welcomed the prospect of returning to Imola after the championship’s maiden visit last weekend, but series boss Gerhard Berger says it’s still “too early” to decide.

Berger: "Too early" to discuss DTM returning to popular Imola

Imola became the fifth Italian venue to host a DTM round, with the Abt Audi team winning both races in the hands of Rene Rast and Ricardo Feller.

Although overtaking opportunities at the classic parkland track were few and far between without a significant tyre offset, such as the one used by Mirko Bortolotti to climb from 16th to third in race one, the track’s introduction to the calendar was widely lauded.

“Imola is an amazing circuit and I think there was not one driver in the whole paddock not being happy to be racing here,” Red Bull Ferrari boss Ron Reichert told Autosport.

“It’s amazing to be here, it’s a really cool circuit. All the ambient you create here is very different to the other circuits, so I’m happy to be here.”

When asked if he’d like to see Imola return, Grasser Racing Lamborghini boss Gottfried Grasser told Autosport: “For sure, 100%.

"Personally it’s a very nice event. I really like it here, absolutely.”

HRT Mercedes boss Uli Fritz told Autosport that the difficulties in passing didn’t detract from his team’s enjoyment of the event.

“We have seen that maybe the track doesn’t 100% fit an exciting race format, because you cannot really overtake here, especially if the BoP is quite balanced,” he said.

“Then for the spectators it’s not the greatest race, but the drivers love it and the teams love it.”

Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3, Arjun Maini, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3

Ricardo Feller, Team ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3, Arjun Maini, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3

Photo by: DTM

But when asked by Autosport if he was already planning for Imola to become a more permanent fixture on the calendar, Berger said: “Honestly, I don’t know.

“At the moment we are just putting our calendar for next year together, and I don’t have yet the facts on paper to say, ‘here we go, here we don’t’.

“It’s a question of ‘is it a good circuit, is it for us important as a country, is it overtaking possibility, is it good for TV, which calendar date we get’, so it’s everything completely open for the moment.

“If it’s Imola or if it’s Monza or if it’s Misano, Vallelunga, I don’t know. It’s too early to talk about this.”

Berger said that ITR “need to study more Italy” to understand whether it would be better served having a regular base in one location or moving around different Italian tracks, after it visited Monza in 2021.

“We still have to understand what has to be done,” he explained.

“When I was young, Italy was the mecca of motorsport. In the moment it is very difficult except [for] Formula 1 to get people here, but we will work on it.”

Speaking in the press conference after finishing third, two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann suggested that the addition of a guest driver to the field would attract more spectators.

In 2019, then-Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso raced an Audi at Misano, while the previous year the ever-popular Alex Zanardi made his series bow at the same venue.

“If we come back, I think we need to work on getting more fans on the trackside,” said Wittmann, who added his support for the “super-cool” layout.

“I don’t know if we can get like a superstar in the DTM like for example Valentino Rossi, I think there the DTM needs to work because obviously you can run in front of the big crowd.”

Feller also backed returning to Imola, but suggested moving the start time earlier or later in the day to avoid the fierce heat would be more attractive to spectators.

“I think there were not as many coming as maybe if we do the race a bit earlier or later because it was just super-hot,” he said.

“I can understand that it’s not the nicest to stand there on the side of the track when it’s that hot.

“But the track definitely has something. It’s one of my favourites, especially I think the favourite in Italy, so it’s nice that DTM comes to Imola.”

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