The expert’s tip: Experience will pay off
Matthias Brzezinski has a part of it since day one. The motor-racing journalist who is 62 years old has been accompanying DTM since the debut season, back in 1984, when it still was called German Production Car Championship and was contested with close-to-production Group A vehicles. In that year, motor-racing expert Brzezinski attended the race meeting at the AVUS on behalf of the Berliner Zeitung, BZ, and witnessed Olaf Manthey winning the race with a Rover. For DTM.com, the Berliner looks back on the season kick-off at Hockenheim, explains the special characteristics of the Lausitzring and tells us who are his favourites for the two races on the coming weekend.
On the season kick-off: It was the first race for everybody. So, it’s still too early to make an authoritative assessment. I was positively surprised that the reduction of the cars from 24 to 18 – a step I actually didn’t like – didn’t result in a visual negative effect. Watching the races was real fun. The numerous innovations virtually jumbled the field. Nobody knew exactly where they would be standing. What I really like: more power. You don’t necessarily can see it on your TV set but he higher horsepower output of the engines and the sound combined with it are very positive. A lot of people confirmed that the cars sound even better than they did anyway. The fact that the distance of both races is identical also is positive. So, we haven’t got a 1A and a 1B race any more. In addition there is the radio ban. I think in two one-hour races with drivers on this quality level, the protagonists should be able to contest their races and manage their pit stops and tyre changes without support from the pit wall. This means that they sometimes will make a good decision and sometimes not. But that’s a part of the game.
On the Lausitzring: Significant for everybody is the comparatively bumpy track, a fact that has been criticised again and again. And some when the track arguably will get a new surface. If these huge grandstands are packed the atmosphere is really great. When the field is charging by this is a view that you won’t find at many other circuits. Certainly there aren’t a lot of drivers that would call the Lausitzring their favourite circuit. It just isn’t flowing enough. From my point of view, the DTM version has go a touch of motorbike circuit. The winding section after the start may be great for motorbikes but is tricky for cars of the size and performance level of the DTM racer. You just have to try to get through this sector without making mistakes. Doing so is difficult, even if you are driving alone. A few drivers just went straight on there as they just didn’t get it right. And I can well remember the first race in 2000 that had to be cancelled due to torrential rain. That was somehow bizarre. Helplessness and fatalism all over the paddock and in the end it was said: “Okay, let’s sit here and watch the rain falling.”
Who will make it to the top, this weekend? Mattias Ekström and Gary Paffett. Particularly in the early stages of the season when you have to focus on a lot of things and everything still is somewhat unsorted they will be able to benefit from their immense experience in several situations and that should help them. One of the two will be among the front-runners.
Who will win the title? Since having joined DTM, Timo Glock demonstrated several times that he also is – on a good day – one of the drivers who have got what it takes to succeed. Should he be able to avoid no-points races he possibly can make it to the top three. Lucas Auer also could achieve a lot but on the other hand, I also think that he could have a dry spell. After all, he still is very, very young. And he somehow is in a kind of a Formula One hype. And his uncle plays a role. All these things won’t help him on the track but he consistently is confronted with them in one way or the other. It’s like being in a cloud. You somehow can compare his situation with Mick Schumacher who in the beginning never was noticed as Mick Schumacher but only as son of seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher. But fortunately for him and his career he delivered. And I expect that Lucas also will be able to do so. I really think that he has got what it takes to succeed.