Questions and answers
After Sunday's events and decisions regarding the Budapest race we received a lot of questions and comments. We would like to inform you the best way we can. That's why we listed – in cooperation with Deutscher Motor Sport Bund e.V. – the answers to your most frequently asked questions, here [Update by DMSB on 08th June]:
Who decides if the safety car is sent out, if a race is red-flagged and possibly restarted
The race control is in control of everything. Inter alia, the permanent safety delegate, the head of the track safety and the Clerk of the Course (the latter two represent the local organisers) are sitting here – just as the Race Consultant (a former DTM driver who plays a part in the decisions with his knowhow as racing driver). They all support the Race Director who analyses all the information provided by monitors and the GPS-Marshalling-System to afterwards make the final decisions.
How does the time flow look like during such a procedure?
The sequence of action is mainly determined by the damages resulting from the accidents: how much time will it take to look after the injured persons? How long do we need to clean and possibly repair the circuit? To offer the teams the opportunity for a rough planning despite the naturally varying sequences of action in the case of this kind of incidents, the countdown for the restart begins 10 minutes prior to the restart. So, when it is foreseeable that all the debris will be removed and that the track cleaner will leave the circuit in a few minutes, the teams receive – via radio and the Race Control’s official info monitor – a hint and the drivers enter their cars. 10 minutes later, the information lap is started.
Shouldn’t the race control have red-flagged the race right after Auer’s accident in the pit-lane? But the safety car was sent out at first. Why?
Right after the accident it wasn’t clear that the marshal was seriously injured. Therefore, the race wasn’t red-flagged but the safety-car was sent out. The regulations say that coming in for your obligatory pit-stop isn’t possible from this point in time. So, the doctors and paramedics actually should have the time and possibility to work without being disturbed and therefore, red-flagging the race shouldn’t be necessary.
How can it be that an ambulance may enter the pit lane while the race still is running
The ambulance in the pit lane was secured by yellow flags. For the competitors this is a clear signal in an area of the circuit where the top speed is limited to 60kph anyway. Incidentally, the ambulances in the pit lane had nothing to do with the accidents that occurred there.
How was it possible that other cars pitted after Auer’s accident?
Right before the implementation of the safety-car period, a total of five cars entered the pit lane – thus acting in full accordance with the regulation. Only when the info monitors display the signal for the allocation of the safety car a pit stop wouldn’t be regarded as obligatory stop. What of course would make sure that no cars will pit. But the technical realisation alone takes several seconds.
At the same time, pitting isn’t forbidden at any point in time, during the race. A damaged car, for instance, must be allowed to come in at every point in time. Exiting the pit lane, however, isn’t allowed at certain points in time.
The officials concerned in the pit lane: what is their task and why have they been standing there? Are the DTM staff members? Are these officials trained?
The track-safety marshals in Germany are trained and retrained in an extensive education system. To do so, DMSB installed the so-called DMSB Academy that enjoys an extraordinary reputation worldwide and therefore also trains marshals from abroad. In Hungary, the track-safety marshals also are trained in a special way – for instance in the studies of flags or fire-extinguisher technologies. Furthermore, there are special briefings prior to a DTM race where the marshals are informed on the special rules for the areas they are working in. This applies – for instance – to the marshals in the pit lane or the marshals that support DTM’s scrutineers. One of the injured marshals was one of these pit-lane marshals and another two were fire fighters. And the case of those two it goes without saying that they have to be close to the action.
There were complaints about the pit-lane surface being slippery in wet conditions. Is anything wrong with the surface? Formula One also races in Budapest. Isn’t the suitability of a surface checked for a track approval?
The final circuit-approval procedures of the World Motor Racing Association, FIA, to date were executed on 20th July, 2015. The concrete surface in the pit lane was renewed in mid-2016. Since then, quite a number of races were held at the circuit, from Formula One through WTCC to DTM. Incidentally, similar concrete surfaces also are used at other circuits as it has been found out that fuel and oil are more aggressive for tarmac. [Update by DMSB on 08th June]
Why have the drivers Auer, Mortara and Spengler been disqualified?
All the three violated a very clearly formulated paragraph of the DTM’s sporting regulations: “From entering the working lane, a driver has to reduce his speed to an extent that he is able to stop his car at his garage without endangering other competitors or the marshals.” In other words: the driver has to do everything to avoid any danger. Should he make an accident, nevertheless, he was too fast and is penalised. That’s very similar to what happens in the day-to-day traffic: if you cause a rear-end collision you will be penalised by the police for inadequate speed. The reasoning “I wasn’t too fast”, doesn’t count as you quite obviously were too fast and didn’t brake hard enough for avoiding the accident.
None of the disqualified drivers speeded in the pit lane. So how could they be disqualified?
A road-traffic example illustrates the problem. In the German cities, 50kph are compulsory but this can be far too fast for braking on wet cobble stones and may result in an accident. In this case, neither the city that laid the cobble-stone pavement nor the police that didn’t block the road in wet conditions are responsible – but the driver who was too fast for the weather conditions.
How does the opinion formation procedure for a penalty look? And who is responsible for imposing the penalty?
This is internationally standardised by the sports laws: after the race, three stewards check video footage, data recording and talk to those involved as well as witnesses – just like in a civil court hearing. Those involved, usually the drivers, are allowed to take along their team representatives and – if desired – even a lawyer who may support them. In DTM, the stewards’ board usually consists of the permanent steward who has been accompanying the series for years and is supposed to make sure that similar violations are penalised with similar penalties, a member of the pool of the experienced German stewards and a steward who represents the local organisers. After having sorted out the facts, this board works on coming to a conclusion that is based on paragraphs of the sports laws. Afterwards, the team representatives and the driver are informed on this decision during the sentencing. And just as in the case of ordinary courts, the penalised drivers can appeal to the decision within certain deadlines. This appeal than will be dealt with by another board - the appeal court.
Wouldn’t have fines been enough?
When it comes to fines in DTM you have to be realistic. In a series that is contested by well-financed teams and manufacturers, fines usually aren’t noticeable penalties. In other words: a grid-penalty hurts team and drivers in the battle for the title far more than an €10,000 fine. So, if the violation requires a hard penalty – and don’t forget that a total of six persons were partly seriously injured, the penalty has to be severe, such as the disqualification, a grid penalty or the likes.
In DTM, the radio communication between teams and drivers is prohibited or massively restricted. Could the drivers have been warned in a better way, without this ban?
The teams of both Edoardo Mortara and Bruno Spengler insistently warned their drivers several times and informed that it was slippery in the pit-lane, that they should driver appropriately slowly and that there already had happened an accident. In addition to an ambulance and yellow flags all over the pit lane this should have been enough to warn the drivers.
Why did the procedures in Hungary and at the Lausitzring differ regarding the remaining race time?
Basically, race time isn’t stopped in the case of a red-flagged race to be able to the stick to the scheduled finish time. Should the red-flag period, however, last too long, the time has to be stopped as an exception, nevertheless.
Why were the teams allowed to change tyres, during the break?
The regulations allow for tyre changes as needed. The reason is clear: Imagine the race was red-flagged due to torrential rain before the teams had time to shoe their cars with wets. If changing the tyres was prohibited and the restart still took place in wet conditions, the cars would have to go out on slicks, nevertheless. Not a very reasonable solution, is it?