BMW DTM team voices fuel mileage fears for Monza

There is a real risk of DTM cars running out of fuel in the season-opening round at Monza due to the aggressive Balance of Performance employed by the series, according to BMW squad Walkenhorst Motorsport.

BMW DTM team voices fuel mileage fears for Monza

The DTM wants to position itself as the fastest GT3 racing category in the world following its switch away from Class One machinery, and is relying primarily on BoP to differentiate itself from other championships using the same ruleset.

However, higher speeds also push up fuel consumption, which could become a problem on a power-sensitive track like Monza.

It is understood that if drivers run at full pace for the entire duration of the 55 minutes-plus-one-lap race, they could miss the chequered flag by not just a few kilometres, but several laps. 

"If there is no safety car, we won't be able to cover the full distance,” Walkenhorst team boss Niclas Konigbauer told Motorsport.com’s sister title Motorsport-Total.com.

"We drive with maximum power. Besides, Monza is already extreme in terms of fuel consumption. It's almost all straight ahead there.”

Fuel management is not a new topic at Monza, with several teams struggling to complete the full 65-minute stint length in April’s GT World Challenge Europe round at the same venue. And that was despite series promoter SRO turning down the power of each engine as part of its BoP.

"It was then wet, there was a safety car and there was code 60, but we would not have been able to do a full green stint like that," Konigbauer, whose team also competes in GTWCE, said.

While the DTM races are comparatively short, each car requires additional fuel for warm-up and to return to the pits after the chequered flag - as well as a two-kilogram sample for technical inspection.

There are three solutions to avoid a similar scenario to Formula E’s Valencia fiasco, where a late-race energy deduction forced the field to limp to the finish in the closing laps in what was the most bizarre race in the series' history. 

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Firstly, the drivers could resort to the usual lift-and-coast strategy seen in other championships, but that wouldn’t provide a good look for the DTM as it seeks to re-establish itself in the motorsport world with a customer-led GT3 racing formula.

The DTM could also reduce the race length to ensure all cars make it to the finish without having to resort to fuel saving, or make tweaks to the BoP to increase the mileage of the cars.

For naturally-aspirated cars, this could be done via air flow limiters, while the boost pressure could be regulated for turbocharged cars. In addition, the lambda value, which indicates the air content in the fuel mixture during combustion, could be increased to reduce consumption.

Also, GT3 cars, as homologated by the FIA, usually have some spare capacity in their fuel tanks, which could help gain a few extra kilometres of fuel mileage.

"In SRO, we race with 120 litres of maximum fuel volume,” Konigbauer said. "However, the cells usually have a few litres more air. So the question is whether we are still allowed to use this small reserve in the DTM."

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