Topic of many discussions – the performance weights
According to the regulations, the minimum weight of a DTM vehicle has to amount to 1120kg – including the driver, his racing gear and his helmet. At Spielberg, in the fifth race meeting of the 2015 season, however, the weight of Martin Tomczyk’s BMW M4 DTM will add up to just 1110kg, while the Audi RS 5 DTM of Mattias Ekström and Pascal Wehrlein’s Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM will have to contest the race weekend with a weight of 1127.5kg. The reason for these differences: the so-called performance weights that have to be added to a car or you may get rid of after a race weekend according to the respective results. A regulation that was discussed in Zandvoort really often – both on the grandstands and in the paddock – as the clearly lighter BMWs truly outclassed the rest of the field. The partly differing opinions of Bruno Spengler (BMW), Maximilian Götz (Mercedes-Benz) and Timo Scheider (Audi) are exemplary for the topic of the discussions.
Particularly for those who don’t regularly deal with motor-racing, the use of performance weights seems to be a strange idea. After all, the fastest drivers are punished for their performance, with theses extra weights. And indeed: using this regulation in other sports would be absurd: Michael Phelps with lead swimming trunks in the Olympic pool? Bayern Munich starts into every Bundesliga match one goal behind? Usain Bolt with iron soles in his sprint shoes? Just unthinkable. But those in charge in DTM have got a good reason for this regulation: they want to turn the series into a particularly attractive motor-racing product for the crowds. “We want to provide close motor racing and the performance weights are a good tool for achieving this goal,” says Scheider. “Of course, this is a slightly strange approach. But when you take a look at Formula 1 where the two Mercedes racers regularly outclass the entire field… That’s boring, isn’t it?” Götz even believes that the additional weights can represent a potential extra boost. “This also can motivate a driver. He could think: ‘Wait and see. I’m heavier than you but I’m going to give you a hard time, nevertheless’.” Bruno Spengler, however, doesn’t share the opinion of his colleagues: “Of course, we shouldn’t begin to change this regulation in the middle of the season. We all adapted to it and live with this decision, now. But as I see it, we don’t need these weights.”
Meanwhile, Götz and Scheider also believe that the regulation in its current form should be discussed. According to them, the kind and the point in time of the penalisation in particular could and should be improved. Currently, not only the most successful drivers are penalised but all the drivers racing for the same manufacturer have to cope with the same fate. Example: the race winners and all the other drivers of the same manufacturer’s camp that made it to the top 10 will have to take 5kg aboard, for the next race meeting and all the other 2.5kg. The only exception is made when all the three manufacturers made it to the podium. In this case, the weight distribution will remain unchanged. Scheider: “I think the performance weights should be assigned right after every race. Furthermore, I think that the collective penalty is unnecessary.”
In one point, however, the three DTM drivers agree: there won’t be any tactical manoeuvres to avoid being penalised with additional weight. “We should be honest enough to admit that we thought about such a move. But at the end of the day, this is just no option. Scoring points is difficult enough without this kind of strategy.” Spengler: “Every point counts. You just can’t afford tactical games regarding the performance weights “
Compared to the partly extreme differences in weight witnessed in the previous race meetings, the differences at Spielberg will be limited. With a weight of 1100kg, the lightest car on the grid, the one of Martin Tomczyk, is just 17.5kg lighter than the heaviest vehicles of Mattias Ekström and Pascal Wehrlein who will roll onto the grid with a weight of 1127.5kg each. “According to our calculation, this extra weight will cost about 3.5 tenths of a second per lap,” says Scheider and Götz adds: “But quite obviously, the track profile also uses to make an impact.”
Despite their triumphal appearance at Zandvoort, the BMWs once again will be the cars to race with the lowest weight, at the Red Bull Ring.
Please click here for the weight distribution for all the DTM vehicles.