Hockenheim analysis: An issue for Ellen Lohr
She is the first and only women to ever have won a DTM race. In 1992 won at Hockenheim with a Mercedes 190 E. Last weekend, the successful motor racer returned to the venue of her biggest DTM triumph. The Mönchengladbacher competent analyses the 2017 DTM season kick-off. What was really good and what has to be criticised? Lohr gets to the point, praises a lot of things but also comes up with several suggestions and ideas for improvement.
DTM is trying to even increase its closeness to the fans, this year. The spectators are supposed to get more insight into what’s going on behind the curtains. At the same time, the event character is supposed to be moved to the fore. How did you like things like – for instance – the Pit View at Hockenheim.
Ellen Lohr: It has been the first time since quite a while that I had the impression that everything was positive. And now it’s about to keep on moving in this direction. There still are a lot of things to do but when it comes to the Pit View I only can say: ‘Great move!’. That’s something that should have been done a long time ago. There really was a new spirit in the paddock. I hope that these vibes also will be spread among the fans, particularly among those that didn’t attend the Hockenheim race weekend.
Prior to the season, extensive regulation changes were introduced. What do you regard as worthy of praise and what has to be criticised?
Ellen Lohr: There are three things that I liked in particular: first of all the fact that the tyre heaters have been banned. That separates the wheat from the chaff. Starting into the qualifying session in cold conditions on unheated tyres really represents a special challenge. And the unheated tyres also made for several interesting moments after the tyre changes in the race. Furthermore, I regard the new DRS regulation – the limitations for using it – as extremely positive. I never was a DRS fan anyway. So, it’s acceptable for me that a flap of the wing is opened from time to time. Last year, the previous regulation made for incredibly boring situations as the driver in the DRS frame just passed the car ahead to take the position ahead of it. Now, even out-braking manoeuvres at the end of the long straight were possible. And the driver ahead could fend the pressuring driver off. Therefore, this regulation change was really positive. And I also welcome the fact that the aerodynamics has been reduced. That also is really good. On the other hand I think that this is an issue that still has to be worked on. I had a long conversation with Klaus Ludwig on this topic. All these underbody developments that can’t be seen by the fans anyway – get rid of it! Then, controlling the cars would be an even bigger challenge – and even more spectacular for the fans. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? If the cars get more and more similar and the drivers make less and less mistakes, the racing gets less and less spectacular. This approach could be continued even far more consequent. The same applies to the brakes: the shorter the braking distance the less spectacular action we will witness in the braking area. So, thinking about making a step back in this area also would be a good idea.
In the second race, on Sunday, the restart in the two-line Indy format made its debut. That’s something you already had to cope with yourself. What’s your assessment in this area?
Ellen Lohr: Also positive. In my days we only had the Indianapolis start in DTM. There were no standing starts. I regard standing starts as extremely boring. It’s boring enough to put you to sleep. Particularly with all the technology in the cars that helps everybody – with rare expectations – making good starts. Therefore, I think the Indy start is extremely exciting. If you ask me, all the races could be started this way. The Indy starts feature far more psychology, far more emotions – and they offer far more possibilities to win or lose.
Which driver did surprise you this weekend? Who are the ones you expect to possibly deliver throughout the season?
Ellen Lohr: The grid is very homogeneous. On the other hand, the new regulations make for slightly bigger gaps than last year in the in the practice and qualifying sessions. Apparently, driving the cars is slightly more difficult than last year. A DTM rookie like Loïc Duval had a more difficult weekend than expected although he is an experienced racing driver. I was delighted with witnessing Timo Glock doing well. He is a thoroughbred pro and if you make such a good start into the season you definitely are one of the favourites in the battle for the championship. Timo demonstrated that he is an experienced driver. At the same time, Lucas Auer really deserved the win. He already delivered several amazing performances last year but more often than not it wasn’t noticed as he used to race in the midfield. And Jamie Green also left his mark. He now holds the top position on the Audi list. With Mattias Ekström, Mike Rockenfeller and René Rast – who definitely also will impress, this year – they have got a really fast and homogeneous squad.