Driver difference weights – the enforced yoyo effect
It seems incredible but is a logical consequence of physics: In DTM, even two kilos make an identifiable impact on the lap times. Consequently it’s easy to assume that lightweight drivers would enjoy an advantage, in the series. But this wouldn’t be fair as there are genetic reasons for the weight of a person. No DTM driver is supposed to slim until he has achieved the ideal racing driver weight. This often would make for health restrictions or even result in a reduced competitiveness. Therefore, the DTM regulations define a minimum weight for a driver. In paragraph 4.3, the driver minimum weight is stipulated to amount to 84kg. And to make sure that this weight also is met by the lighter drivers, the regulations feature the so-called driver difference weight. To control if the minimum weight is complied with, DMSB regularly asks the drivers to step on the weighing scales, during an event.
84 kilogram is a weight that is higher than the weight of some of the DTM drivers – even when they wear the helmet and their racing gear. In the past season, Lucas Auer – personal weight 56kg – was the featherweight on the DTM grid, with Martin Tomczyk with a constant weight of about 80kg being the heaviest. A massive difference that would have given Auer a clear advantage out there on the track. But paragraph 4.3.1. of the regulations describes what has to be done to achieve the obligatory minimum weight and make for equal opportunities.
As first step, every driver has to come to the scrutineers, wearing their full racing gear, to have their personal weights noted, prior to the beginning of a race meeting. The difference to the minimum weight – if existing – is noted in a database. So, the drivers and controllers know exactly the difference to the stipulated 84 kilos. To compensate for the difference, the respective driver has to take the appropriate amount of difference weight aboard his car. But he doesn’t wear this weight on his body. The necessary additional weight is fixed on the lower fastening points of the lap belts. Throughout the race weekend, the driver is responsible for making sure that the difference weight is fixed in his car and that the minimum weight doesn’t fall below the stipulated minimum.
The appropriate controls are executed by DMSB following every qualifying session and every race. More often than not, the controllers content themselves with weighing only the driver. But from time to time – and without previous announcement – the ballast has to be disassembled and is taken onto the weighing scale together with the driver. This often happens when a driver turns out to be lighter than he was at the previous control.
Incidentally, a lower driver weight proves to be an advantage despite the driver minimum weight. And once again, the physics prove to be the crucial factor. After all, the ballast is fixed at the lowest point of the car what is virtually perfect regarding the gravity centre. Therefore, the pros like to slim down several kilos from the higher placed hips to then have them fixed in the car as lead weights on the belt-fastening points. While drivers who don’t succeed in getting their weight below 84kg despite all the diets and an abstinent lifestyle have the cards stacked against them, in the game with bodyweight, ballast and gravity centre.