In 2019 a new era of the DTM Series will begin with the introduction of the Class One regulations.
As well, Mercedes leaving the series also puts them in uncharted territory.
However Audi‘s Mike Rockenfeller is confident of what the future holds.
The biggest changing being the cars themselves, with the series introducing turbo engines amongst other developments.
“There are a lot of innovations for 2019. Surely the biggest difference is the four-cylinder turbo, which clearly has a higher power output. At the same time, our new car has more efficient aerodynamics. That’ll make us a lot faster on the straights.
“All in all, it’s the biggest change that I’ve seen in DTM. Being involved in it is very exciting. I’ve been driving with eight cylinders now for twelve years and am looking forward to something new. Plus, more power is always more fun.”
The big thing for the teams will be who can get to grips with their car the quickest, in the hopes of building a strong campaign off of it.
“Everyone in the team is highly motivated. The new car is like our new baby. Everyone is happy, even though we still have a lot of work to do. It’s about reliability, drivability and performance. The new engine behaves differently than the old eight cylinder, whose characteristics we knew inside out. We only have a few tests in DTM and we need to make optimum use of them.”
As a result, the cars in 2019 will be faster than they have before – with about 100 horsepower extra than previously.
The drivers will feel the acceleration difference, with more load going into the rear tyres then before.
“Depending on the track, the lap times will be two or three seconds faster than before. You approach the turns quicker and the braking phases become a little longer. We pass the straights faster because we’re driving at higher speeds – maybe at more than 300 km/h for the first time! That would be fantastic and should definitely be possible with DRS and some slipstreaming.”
When Formula One changed to turbo engines, a lot of the criticism by fans came from sound that they made – however Rockenfeller does not feel this is the case for the DTM.
“Inside the car itself, the sound isn’t that much different. However, when shifting into a lower gear, there’s a humongous roar in the tailpipes. That’s cool for us drivers and for the fans, too. On the whole, the engines are a little quieter but even so, you can hear and see that there’s a lot of power involved.
“The sound is different than it used to be, but very nice. Audi has a lot of experience with turbo engines in motorsport. I thought the turbo engines were awesome even in the days of rallying. It’s great for us to now have a turbo in the DTM car as well.”
The first race of the new DTM era takes place at Hockenheim on 4-5 May, where the drivers, teams and fans will get the first real understanding of the new cars.
As well, Aston Martin will be making their debut in what is to be a historic moment in the series.