BMW and Mercedes braced for crunch Zandvoort DTM race

Mercedes and BMW acknowledge that this weekend's Zandvoort DTM round will provide a much clearer indication of their 2015 prospects than the Norisring, where they kept Audi off the podium

BMW and Mercedes braced for crunch Zandvoort DTM race

Audi dominated the start of the season, winning all four races at Hockenheim and the Lausitzring, including three victories for Jamie Green.

Following the Lausitzring event, Mercedes and BMW raised concerns about Hankook's tyres and a subsequent review found that while the 2015 rubber was not defective, its weight median was approximately 700g per tyre heavier than last year's batch.

The field was back on 2014-specification rubber at the Norisring, where Mercedes won both races and BMW took its first podium of the season.

Both manufacturers know that Zandvoort will show how much of an impact tyres played in their early-season form. Last year's race at the track was won by Audi with Mattias Ekstrom.

"The first two races were really up and down for us, and we are really relieved by what we could achieve at the Norisring," Mercedes' Ulrich Fritz told AUTOSPORT.

"We know that the Norisring is a different track to everything on the DTM schedule, so it's really difficult to say where we are standing.

"I think Zandvoort is really an aero track, really demanding on tyres, so I think this will be a first indication as to where we are really."

As a result of its strong start to 2015, Audi carried significant performance weight at the Norisring, with several of its drivers running as much as 30kg heavier than some BMW drivers.

Championship leader Green estimated that as being worth 0.3 seconds per lap around the street circuit, and some of that weight will effectively move from Audi to Mercedes drivers this weekend.

Bruno Spengler's late pass on Ekstrom during the Norisring's Sunday race secured BMW's first 2015 podium, and motorsport director Jens Marquardt said it shows the brand is "going in the right direction" in the wake of the tyre saga.

"I have to be happy with the answers that we got," he said of the review, "which is basically that we're back to where we were for the last three years of racing plus one year of testing, which were extremely stable and reliable.

"At the end of the day, Norisring will never give us all of the answers because it's very specific and very different to everywhere else we race.

"So I think we can have full confidence back in Zandvoort."

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