Several times in recent weeks I’ve been dismayed with one of our team members regularly badmouthing DTM. This is, because DTM is everything that F1 isn’t. It faced the same problems, but instead of the gerontocracy that is F1, they actually solved them.
All except the, what appears to be a border-line imbecile, octogenarian can see that F1 in its current form can hardly survive a couple more seasons, to what the DTM people will say: ‘Been there, done that’.
In the early 90s, DTM was a huge success. Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Ford, Opel, later Alfa-Romeo as well provided more than enough variety on the grid and with drivers like Bernd Schneider, Jacques Laffitte, Keke Rosberg, the Winkelhock brothers, Alessandro Naninni, Nicola Larini and a young Frentzen there was no shortage of talent and household names.
In came Max, Bernie and their cronies, named the whole thing ITC, let them drive all over the world and started bleeding it for money. Costs went through the roof and the manufacturers ran screaming. After only 2 years they had killed DTM off for good and the series died after the 1996 season.
Four years later, a reformed DTM restarted itself with the express goal of keeping costs in check and making sure that the toad from Suffolk stayed the heck away from it. As a result long-term technical regulations were put in place that should remain in place with only minor adjustments for fourteen years.
It started out with only three manufacturers – Mercedes, Audi and Opel (that’s a slightly less sh*t version of Vauxhall, for those on Her Majesty’s Island). It even survived some years with only two manufacturers when Opel walked out as the cash-strapped company couldn’t even afford the new el cheapo version of DTM. MG was slated to fill the gap, but in the best tradition of British car manufacturers, it went belly up.
With the arrival of BMW in 2012, the DTM was back to three manufacturers and the powers that be thought about luring in other manufacturers without causing spiralling costs. The biggest obstacle was, that DTM was basically a better version (in my opinion) of NASCAR without the pre-historic technology and a hell of a lot more right hand turns. The cars are silhouette cars with a naturally aspirated 3l V8 engine. It’s an insular solution.
While F1 solves such problems with engine-freezes and what not, which a manufacturer can abuse to buy himself a huge and almost guaranteed competitive advantage, they had the idea of changing the rules in a way that a manufacturer could use a once-developed car for more than one series with little to no modifications.
In several steps the rules of Japan Super-GT, DTM and an American series to be established under the guidance of Grand-Am, will be harmonised until 2017, opening the market for current manufacturers Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti and Honda/Acura, as well as potential new entrants like Chevy, Ford, Alfa-Romeo/Maserati and others. Japan and Germany will have this process mostly completed by 2015 and a first race fielding both DTM and Super-GT cars built to identical specifications is planned for August 2015.
Surely, even the biggest pessimist can see that any manufacturer is more likely to join if he can develop a car once and then use it on three continents to plug his wares.
And that’s where F1 missed the boat.
When they came up with the new engine rules; why didn’t anyone say ‘look, don’t WEC use a similar formula? Why not harmonise with them?’
In my opinion the most obvious answer is ‘because it makes too much sense’. Had they done that, we could see cars with Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Judd and Porsche engines in F1, while at the same time the likes of Renault, Ferrari and Honda could have a whack at Le Mans either as a factory effort or as an engine supplier.
Does anyone really think that if the engine formulae were the same, Porsche would hesitate a single minute if they could sell the same engine with perhaps minor adjustments to an F1 team? And if not WEC, why not Indycars? Sure Ferrari would not need to think twice if they could try their hands at both Monaco and the Indy 500 without having to develop two engines for it?
Alas, they went for ‘cost cutting measures’ that Mercedes made a mockery off by spending more on engine development than any other manufacturer in the history of the sport.
Welcome to the world of #F1 Logic.