Ekstrom "worried" pay drivers could flood GT3-based DTM

Mattias Ekstrom is "worried" and "scared" that the DTM will get flooded with pay drivers when the series moves to GT3 regulations in 2021

Ekstrom "worried" pay drivers could flood GT3-based DTM

The DTM will undergo a major transformation next year when high-downforce Class One cars are dropped in favour of comparatively slower and easier-to-drive GT3 machines.

This change will also mark the end of manufacturer participation in the DTM, one of the series' hallmarks, with privateer teams now required to raise their own budgets.

The DTM has always been known for attracting top talent, with drivers coming from other championships such as Formula 1 mixing with newcomers from the now-defunct European F3 series to form one of the most competitive grids in any championship.

This was largely made possible by heavy involvement of German manufacturers, who were known to be spending tens of millions of dollars every year in their home series, but an increasing appetite for electric racing in recent years has prompted them to look at other categories and turn DTM into a privateer-led series.

Two-time DTM champion and long-time Audi driver Ekstrom fears the DTM's image as a destination for leading drivers will change quickly in its GT3 era as independent teams will likely favour those who bring a budget along with them.

"I think DTM will always try to position themselves as a championship with the best of the best driving," Ekstrom told Autosport.

"And most of the time the best of the best are also having a higher demand in terms of financial requests and so on.

"For me not having manufacturers or manufacturer support, it will be very difficult to be attractive for drivers and teams who are on a professional level and don't finance themselves with gentleman drivers.

"If DTM would start becoming a platform with gentleman drivers or pay drivers will come, I think it would be very fast changing the image of the series from being the place where best of the best drivers are driving to where one those who can find a budget can drive, and that is one thing I'm worried and I'm also scared about that will end up that way."

Ekstrom first joined the DTM a year after it was revived in 2001 and stayed in the category for 18 seasons, spending his entire tenure with factory Audi squad Abt.

The Swedish driver blasted the DTM for its "too low entertainment value" earlier this year following Audi's dominant start to the season, adding the world no longer needs the long-running German touring car category.

Ekstrom retired from the DTM at a time it featured a healthy three-way rivalry between Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but he feels the manufacturer were overspending on building cars when their high budgets could have been spent on improving the show instead.

"I always felt for many years they would spend a lot of money on very expensive engineering," Ekstrom said.

"I won't say it was wasted money, but it felt like the money that was invested in extreme technical development was just overpricing the product versus having a product that might have been a bit cheaper.

"You could have spent money to do more races, instead of doing fewer races and then overpricing the engineering.

"I'm still convinced the way money was spent in the past wasn't made in the optimum way, and I hope that now in the future they realise that more races is going to help the fans to get racing more continuity and to watch more races."

shares
comments
Auer: BMW could have overturned Audi DTM deficit in 2021

Previous article

Auer: BMW could have overturned Audi DTM deficit in 2021

Next article

Albon to contest DTM in 2021 with Red Bull backing alongside Lawson

Albon to contest DTM in 2021 with Red Bull backing alongside Lawson
Load comments

About this article

Series DTM
Drivers Mattias Ekström
Author Rachit Thukral
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Plus

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One rule set, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race

DTM
Oct 13, 2020
How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror Plus

How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror

Opel's fortunes in the DTM had taken a turn for the worst by 2003 - hardly the pedigree that suggested it could take on the toughest 24-hour race of them all. But that's exactly what it did

DTM
Sep 23, 2020
The season that revitalised a sleeping giant Plus

The season that revitalised a sleeping giant

On the 20th anniversary of the resumption of hostilities in the DTM, Autosport revisits a classic season that brought a staple of German motorsport back to life with a bang and set in motion the careers of some notable names

DTM
May 28, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to DTM's current crisis? Plus

Does 2000 hold the answers to DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
The last-chance saloon of Germany's forgotten tin-top champions Plus

The last-chance saloon of Germany's forgotten tin-top champions

The Opel Vectra GTS was the last in the line of the marque's DTM challengers, but failed to hit the lofty heights of its predecessors when financial constraints hit

DTM
May 15, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Plus

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000. Autosport's expert panel ranks its 10 best drivers from the period

DTM
May 5, 2020
How the DTM landed itself in crisis Plus

How the DTM landed itself in crisis

Audi's announcement that it will withdraw from the DTM was the latest bodyblow for a series that has lost three manufacturers in as many years. Some major soul-searching will now be required to assess how it can survive

DTM
Apr 28, 2020
The FE cynic who had to accept change in his series Plus

The FE cynic who had to accept change in his series

DTM boss Gerhard Berger was an ardent detractor of Formula E and was reluctant for his series to embrace greener engine technologies. But this cynic's tune has had to change to ensure the DTM's existence in the future of motorsport

DTM
Dec 13, 2019