DTM introduces lighting system to avoid tyre usage confusion

The DTM will use an onboard lighting system to show when cars are racing on option tyres at Brands Hatch this weekend in response to the confusion generated by the new rubber at Hockenheim

DTM introduces lighting system to avoid tyre usage confusion

The Formula 1-style option tyres were introduced at Hockenheim two weeks ago as part of a raft of technical changes aimed at spicing up the on-track action.

The option Hankooks were marked with a yellow stripe in order to allow spectators to see when a driver was using his one permitted set of the soft rubber during the race.

However, the stripe proved difficult to spot. With timing screens and television graphics also failing to display sufficient information, fans, commentators and even teams were unable to spot what many cars were using at any given time.

Series promoter the ITR has responded by using the orange lights mounted on the sides of each car - and previously used to show how many pitstops a driver had made - to display tyre usage.

The orange lights will come on when a car is on option tyres and will be turned off when it is using the harder, standard rubber.

ITR chairman Hans Werner Aufrecht said: "We have to involve and inform both the fans on-site and watching on TV much better. To them the races must be more clear.

"The race at Hockenheim made clear that identifying the yellow marks on the option tyres was virtually impossible. Consequently even our TV commentators had the problem of identifying what was going on.

"We are working in cooperation with [German motorsport federation] the DMSB and Hankook on ways to improve this, such as using the LED lights. We hope that this will be a significant step forward at Brands Hatch."

AUTOSPORT understands that the possibility of widening the yellow stripe on the options, so as to make it more visible, is also being evaluated.

AUTOSPORT SAYS
Reports editor Jamie O'Leary (@mrjamieoleary)

Bravo DTM. Rather than just bury their heads in the sand, the decision-makers within the ITR have come up with a solution that - hopefully - will work at Brands Hatch.

It may not sound like such a significant move, but take it from me, deciphering strategies from within the Hockenheim press room two weeks ago proved nigh-on impossible. Not what you need when trying to come up with a concise way of relaying what went on in your AUTOSPORT.com report.

And it wasn't just me either. Several TV commentators and numerous team managers were equally baffled. None of us were able to read the race properly, and were therefore in the dark as to whether driver X's pace at any particular stage of the race was option-influenced or not.

That's just us lot, who had the benefit of timing screens and the odd publicly-broadcast pit-to-car radio transmission. The fans sitting in the grandstand had none of that, and must have been even more confused.

Key to the cause of the problem was that the yellow stripes painted on the sidewalls of the options were simply not wide enough, and were impossible to see at speed; the tyres being of a far lower profile than those used in Formula 1, for example.

The use of side and front-mounted LEDs is, for now, a trial. If it doesn't work, you can bet a different solution will be employed at Spielberg. They do have a habit of getting things right in the DTM, remember...

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