Bortolotti explains "crucial" tyre-saving strategy that aided Imola podium charge

Mirko Bortolotti says managing his tyres in the early stages of the DTM's Imola opener was "crucial" in his recovery from 16th on the grid to finish third on Saturday.

Bortolotti explains "crucial" tyre-saving strategy that aided Imola podium charge

The Grasser Racing Lamborghini driver was given a 10-place grid penalty when it was discovered that his team had "used a wrong set of tyres", per the steward's report, in second practice on Friday due to mixing up the tyre barcodes.

Bortolotti elected to use only a single set of tyres in the 20-minute qualifying session, which yielded the sixth-fastest time, and he started on the same set to save the remaining two sets from his allocation.

Stuck in traffic in the early laps on a track where overtaking is difficult in GT3 machines, the Lamborghini factory driver said he was making a conscious effort to save his tyres to unleash the car's potential in clear air once the cars ahead of him pitted.

His comparable pace with cars that had already changed tyres allowed Bortolotti to rejoin seventh after his lap 22 pitstop, and he made rapid progress on a brand-new set in the closing stages - when his early-stopping rivals were on ageing rubber - to secure third with a late pass on Thomas Preining.

"It was crucial to manage the tyres in the beginning because I knew I have to go really long," he said.

"As soon as everybody pits, I needed still the performance in the tyres in order to keep the pace up, hoping for anything else happening.

"Maybe they are fighting in the pack, because everybody has pitted together, then I have a free track in order to gain some spots and the race really got towards us."

Race winner Rene Rast, Team ABT Sportsline, second place Nico Muller, Team Rosberg, third place Mirko Bortolotti, Grasser Racing Team

Race winner Rene Rast, Team ABT Sportsline, second place Nico Muller, Team Rosberg, third place Mirko Bortolotti, Grasser Racing Team

Photo by: DTM

Bortolotti was the only driver to make the alternate strategy of a long first stint work, as most elected to pit early and conserve their positions.

The Italian explained that he "never expected to be able to fight for a podium today honestly from P16" and attributed his progress entirely to the Grasser team's strategy.

"In the first stint I had no chance to overtake, I did the full stint behind a Ferrari, so I think we gained everything with strategy in the end," he said.

"We made the call to have this set of tyres, and I think that in these temperatures on this track makes a huge difference."

Quickly negotiating Grasser team-mate Clemens Schmid, who finished sixth, at the second Rivazza was key in allowing Bortolotti to push on after Kelvin van der Linde and Preining.

Asked by Autosport for his thoughts on that move into the second Rivazza, Bortolotti said: "I think the way I closed the gap it was quite clear that I was faster than him in that moment.

"Clemens is a clever guy and he wants to bring those points home without losing too much time fighting and maybe crashing two cars of the team.

"If we would have had a big fight, it could have been first a bad outcome for both and 99% of a chance I would have passed him anyway.

"So I think we were both clever there and it was the maximum for also not to fight too much."

The result moved Bortolotti to within three points of standings leader Sheldon van der Linde.

shares
comments
Rast "proven wrong" by "unexpected" win in DTM comeback year
Previous article

Rast "proven wrong" by "unexpected" win in DTM comeback year

Next article

Sheldon van der Linde "maximised" Imola DTM result with 25kg ballast

Sheldon van der Linde "maximised" Imola DTM result with 25kg ballast
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