Opinion: Mercedes exit spells the end of DTM as we know it

Monday's shock news that Mercedes will quit the DTM after 2018 will likely spell the end of the championship in its existing form, argues Motorsport.com's German Editor Stefan Ehlen.

Opinion: Mercedes exit spells the end of DTM as we know it
Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A5 DTM
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM
Augusto Farfus, BMW Team RMG, BMW M4 DTM
Bruno Spengler, BMW Team RBM, BMW M4 DTM
Bruno Spengler, BMW Team RBM, BMW M4 DTM
Augusto Farfus, BMW Team RMG, BMW M4 DTM
Gerhard Berger, ITR Chairman
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM and Robert Wickens, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Timo Glock, BMW Team RMG, BMW M4 DTM
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Gerhard Berger, ITR Chairman
René Rast, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi RS 5 DTM, Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM

Mercedes' announcement that it will exit the DTM after 2018 in favour of a Formula E entry could very well prove to be a fatal blow for the Germany-based series.

For the fact that one of the three manufacturers is about to exit is more than a mere ripple – it threatens the series' very existence.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes have clarified since the start of their three-way battle in 2012 that the DTM will never again be a "house for two", as it was from 2006 to 2011 after Opel's departure.

Even though they find themselves in a similar scenario, Audi and BMW would have to pay more to ensure the series' survival – and just after scaling back from eight to six cars for cost-saving reasons.

For Audi and BMW to suddenly dig deeper into their pockets to compensate for Mercedes' exit is not realistic. And there are no signs of a new brand entering the market, which is a problem.

This situation has been used in past years as a threat: "If we don't get what we want, then we're gone".

Because of such political games, there were sometimes technical concessions. The aim was to keep the peace, so that everyone could go on in a racing series in which the participants themselves determine the rules and continually play around with the regulations.

Now they have found themselves mired in a jungle of regulations they planted themselves. It's so thick that shears or machetes won't help anymore; it needs to be completely cleared.

The DTM in its current form has run its course. It's a discontinued model.

A new blueprint

New series boss Gerhard Berger would be well advised to make Mercedes' exit 'year zero' and start completely afresh - out with all the things the DTM is (rightly) criticised for, and in with real racing.

This means cars which are once again compatible with the term 'touring car'. That means no more carbon fibre prototypes, less aerodynamics, back to manual gear changes and proper steering wheels.

This would decrease costs and improve the action, making the DTM more attractive to other manufacturers, and also potentially privateers.

Then, simple rules, designed and overseen by an independent body. If the rules don't suit one of the participants, don't continually bend them to suit – they can stay at home, as it should be.

Finally, make the 'D' in 'DTM' stand for Deutschland again. Forget racing in empty autodromes in exotic locations like China and Russia and focus on a country where motorsport still has many fans.

The Australian model

If all of that sounds utopian, consider that the Australian Supercars series has run very successfully on the above principles for years – with visually and acoustically appealing cars that don't cost a fortune to run; with works and private teams competing with one another; and with clear rules.

What this shows is that real touring car racing should not seek to technically emulate Formula 1, but provide gripping action. It's a proven formula, and it's time to implement it once again in Germany.

With this in mind, Berger can look forward to a fresh start with willing colleagues.

And one other thing, then let's take this new DTM where it belongs – the Nurburgring Nordschleife!

shares
comments
Audi, BMW must "evaluate" DTM future after Mercedes exit

Previous article

Audi, BMW must "evaluate" DTM future after Mercedes exit

Next article

DTM can survive without Mercedes, says Berger

DTM can survive without Mercedes, says Berger
Load comments
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Prime

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Prime

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One ruleset, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race.

DTM
Oct 14, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis? Prime

Does 2000 hold the answers to the DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers Prime

Ranking the 10 best Audi DTM drivers

Audi last week announced it would be exiting the DTM at the end of 2020, bringing the curtain down on 20 years of continuous participation since the series' reboot in 2000.

DTM
May 5, 2020
Why the DTM must reinvent itself after Audi exit Prime

Why the DTM must reinvent itself after Audi exit

Audi's announcement that it will withdraw from the DTM at the end of 2020 was the latest blow for a series that has lost three manufacturers in as many years. Some major soul-searching will now be required to assess how it can survive.

DTM
Apr 28, 2020
Why cynic Berger changed his mind over green tech in racing Prime

Why cynic Berger changed his mind over green tech in racing

DTM boss Gerhard Berger was a detractor of Formula E and held a reluctance for his series to embrace greener engine technologies. However, this cynic's tune has had to change to ensure DTM's existence as the motorsport world moves forward

DTM
Dec 13, 2019
What the fallout from Aston's engine split means for 2020 Prime

What the fallout from Aston's engine split means for 2020

Aston Martin's DTM arrival, via the R-Motorsport outfit, was heralded as a salvation of sorts for the series. After plenty of bumps in the road in 2019, the team finds itself in a similar position to the one it was in 12 months ago. Can it get its act together?

DTM
Dec 6, 2019
How the DTM and Super GT can build on their experiment Prime

How the DTM and Super GT can build on their experiment

The Class One 'Dream Race' staged by the DTM and SUPER GT proved a hit - from a competitive and collaborative standpoint. The next step will be for both parties to ensure a successful trial ends up being more than just that.

Super GT
Nov 29, 2019