The 2017 season of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters heralds a new era for the three manufacturers as regulation changes allow more power, but less downforce, putting more emphasis back on driver ability.
The four-litre engines from the three German marques are now producing more than 500hp for 2017, this is the first time in the series that the output is so high. To achieve this bigger intake-system air restrictors have been used. Each engine has one air restrictor per cylinder bench and the small increase in size from 28mm to 29mm helps to deliver the improved power. Additional changes see optimised air intake systems assist in the power increase.
Despite these changes, reliability is still key and most engines will survive the entire season. Each engine will be sealed and may only be opened to perform regular service duties.
A number of changes to the rules in relation to aerodynamics see the geometry of the front splitter, underbody and rear diffuser change while the ride height is increased.
One of the biggest changes for 2017 is a reworking of the DRS (Drag Reduction System), which allows drivers to reduce the vehicle drag for a short time, helping to make way for a higher speed and in theory more overtaking. The previous DRS system saw the rear wing that could be hinged down completely, but the changes mean that just the Guerney Flap moves on this years wing, increasing the DRS efficiency.
Hankook tyres will be providing more grip with their new tyres, but this added grip comes with a trade off with a shorter lifespan, meaning the drivers will have to think more about tyre management and when to push more than previous seasons.
While the body design of the new cars share a silhouette with their production car family, new control components have been introduced to restrict costs. Umbrella organisation ITR will control the development of the components which includes the addition of suspension area parts. There will also be a DTM control wheel provided by ATS wheels.
What do the drivers think?
Mattias Ekström is happy with the changes and believes the series is heading in the right direction. “The changes made on the car are clearly noticeable – particularly the combination of less aero, more power and the new tyres,” said Ekström. “As I see it we are heading in the right direction and I think we are going to have a lot of fun, this year.”
Alongside the technical changes will be revised sporting regulations which are due to be released this week.