Teams are trying to get around the ban on electric blankets in the DTM: Why there is now a rule clarification and the issue gains importance at the title finale
Are the DTM teams playing tricks when it comes to the banned preheating of tyres? opening the pit gates wide and putting the tyres in position to take advantage of the direct sunlight to heat up the tyres.
Some also put the tyres early on the tyre car for the grid, which happened to be in the sun outside the pits. In this context, Article 25.1 of the DTM regulations for the 2023 season states that “any device or measure to increase the tyre temperature above the ambient temperature is inadmissible”.
The incidents have occurred most recently at the Lausitzring and Sachsenring – and are said to involve around a handful of top teams pushing the regulations or going over the limit.
DMSB reacts with clarification of regulations
For this reason, on Saturday evening of the Sachsenring weekend, after some verbal hints, there was now also a clarification of the regulations. It says: “Exposing the complete wheels to sunlight is considered a measure to increase the tyre temperature above the ambient temperature.” This is forbidden according to Article 25.1.
The only exception is the “duration of the stay of the tyres on trolleys on the grid”. Teams are therefore “obliged to make every effort to protect the wheels from sunlight”, whether they are stored in the tyre tents or in the pits.
One metre of sunlight into the pit at the Sachsenring
Speaking of tyre tents, these also play a part in trying to heat up the Pirelli tyres, which are difficult to bring up to temperature. Not coincidentally, some teams use a black tarpaulin for this purpose, which means that more heat is retained in direct sunlight than with a white tent.
The Abt team says it asked the ADAC for clarification of the regulations before the season. “That was a very clear question from us: if the sun shines into the pit at an angle, do I have to put the tyres somewhere at the very back and bring them forward during the pit stop?”.
A positive answer was received – and this was exactly the situation that had arisen on Saturday at the Sachsenring. “We had a metre of sunlight into the pits,” says Tomczyk. “We then put the tyres in the shade and not in the sun at the front because that’s not allowed. “
Abt-Team demands penalties: “Otherwise we don’t need any rules “
But not all teams are likely to have behaved accordingly. As a result, officials from the German Motorsport Federation (DMSB), which ensures compliance with the regulations, went from pit to pit pointing out the rules to the teams. “That’s fair, because you never have the same amount of sunshine in all the garages,” says Abt managing director Thomas Biermaier.
But at the Audi team they are now demanding penalties after the written clarification. “Now there is no excuse,” says Tomczyk. “If someone is caught now, toughness must be shown. That’s what I expect, otherwise we don’t need rules.”
But who were actually the culprits? the Mercedes-AMG team HRT, which triumphed at the Sachsenring with Luca Stolz, and the BMW squad Schubert are likely to be among the handful of teams that went over the limit.
“We are not aware of any blame, and I have not heard that there were any problems at the Sachsenring”,
It could be that “at past events there were questions and representations about this and that we had interpreted it differently than it says in the regulations”, Fritz adds. But that does not mean “that the team was not made aware of it. All the teams explored this at the beginning. “
Will the issue be even more decisive at the season finale?
The Schubert team is likely to have complied with the rule, according to the technical commissioner’s note on Saturday. Apart from that, team boss Torsten Schubert is of the opinion that preheating the tyres in the high temperatures at the Sachsenring did not play a decisive role anyway.
“The tyre is there in a jiffy – you saw that in the outlaps,” he says. “That will be a different issue when it gets a bit colder.” So the issue could play a key role at the two weekends of the season at Spielberg and Hockenheim, which are crucial in the title fight, when temperatures are likely to be lower.