Spengler: “The Monaco of DTM”
In 2006, Bruno Spengler celebrated the first DTM race win in his career – at the wheel of a Mercedes and at the Norisring. Last year, the Canadian made history by winning the Saturday race on the 2.3-kilometre street circuit for BMW Motorsport, thus giving the Munich based manufacturer their first Norisring win in 25 years. Now, the 35-year old returns to the famous circuit between ‘Grundig-Kehre’ and ‘Dutzendteich’. DTM.com talked with Bruno Spengler about his season so far as well as his Norisring memories and expectations.
You hold 12th position in the championship and made it to the top 10 in the first three races. How do you assess the course of your season so far?
I’m not really happy. At Hockenheim, the performance of the car was good. At the Lausitzring I qualified third. We could have scored a bigger number of points, there. The point in time of my pit-stop and our strategy weren’t optimal. A podium would have been possible. Budapest proved to be a generally difficult weekend for BMW. Our competitors were really fast in Hungary. On Saturday I was 12th and the best BMW driver – a really disappointing result. The Sunday race proved to be chaotic and I should have added some points to my tally but then, the accidents happened and due to these incidents, the racing became unimportant.
After the race you were disqualified due to a violation of paragraph 30.9 of the sporting regulations. There it says: 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 marshals. Do you comprehend the decision of the stewards?
First of all it goes without saying that we drivers were really shocked about what happened. That’s something we just don’t want to see. I hope that all those injured are fine. And from my personal point of view I was extremely relieved that my mechanics survived my pit-stop unharmed. When it comes to my penalty: to be honest, I couldn’t understand this decision. The incident definitely was caused by the track surface. The surface isn’t adapted to this kind of conditions. Even in the dry it was more slippery than usual. And in the wet it was like driving on ice. I had decelerated the car massively and was surprised that it skidded at all. Sitting behind the wheel in such a situation is just horrible. As driver it quite obviously isn’t your goal to hit your mechanics or hurt somebody. You always approach your pit carefully to place your car and stop it perfectly for the pit-stop. The goal is to get going again as fast as possible. Therefore, we drivers don’t take any risks when pitting. You don’t gain time if you come in too fast.
Last year, you gave BMW their first DTM win at the Norisring in 25 years after Steve Soper’s success. Are there still things you remember of this weekend?
A lot! It was a great weekend. The Norisring is BMW’s home race. In the previous seasons we several times came close to making it – but failed in the end. Therefore, this was a very special win. I remember well: I was third on the grid. We hadn’t expected rain but all of a sudden it was raining heavily. I gained two positions right away and also was able to push when the track was dry. After such a long time a really outstanding win for me and BMW. The mechanics, the engineers, the entire team – they all were virtually over the moon. As a driver you don’t forget this kind of emotions.
To what extent will the reduction of the aerodynamic downforce make an impact on the Norisring races?
Making an educated guess in advance always is difficult. But I believe that the impact will be negligible compared to other circuits. At the Norisring we always opt for a low-downforce setup anyway.
You won at the Norisring in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2017. Which of these successes was the most significant for you?
The win in 2006 for Mercedes. It was my very first DTM win. But the win I secured last year for BMW too. As it meant the end of a long dry spell at the Norisring. Therefore, these two wins were special for me.
Together with Jamie Green you celebrated more wins than anybody else at Nuremberg’s Zeppelinfeld. And you hold the lap record. Furthermore, you secured another five Norisring podiums. You deserve the title ‘Mr Norisring’ just as much as your fellow Audi driver...
It’s up to you to decide who is ‘Mr Norisring’. In recent years things ran really well for me, there. I like the circuit and the atmosphere is special. The fans are fantastic. It’s the ‘Monaco of DTM’.
What do you think? Why does the circuit suit you well?
I just like driving there. I like the challenge to charge along the walls and to always try to race on the perfect line. The circuit features only a few corners but finding the brake spot for these four corners always is really difficult. The car tends to slide a lot and you have to cope with all these bumps. You are countersteering all the time and are really busy. I like that, you mustn’t make the slightest mistake.