Second DTM round, Zandvoort, Holland
The DTM circus visited Holland for the tenth time last weekend, and since the weather was fine I decided to go and check it out together with my 6 year old son. Compared to F1, the ticket prices are very reasonable, ticket for a seated place was €43 and a paddock ticket an additional 20, this included a 30 minute pit walk, so we bought a paddock ticket too.
The race programme included Formula 3 Euro Series, Porsche Carrera Cup and the Seat Leon Supercopa. Only Mercedes and Audi still compete in DTM nowadays, and most of the teams run with cars that are one or more seasons old. But, while the cars aren’t the newest, there are some serious drivers competing: Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard, Gary Paffet and of course Force India’s newest driver, Paul di Resta was last year’s champion. Mika Hakkinen and H-H Frentzen also drove in DTM after their F1 carreer, so it’s a good series to see the F1 heroes from the past and watch if they still can floor the throttle.
We arrived a bit late, so we missed the Seats and the Porsches, but got in time for the Formula 3. After entering the paddock, we watched a couple of laps from the inside of Tarzan corner, this is a right hand turn just after the long straight and a good place to overtake (or end in tears in the gravel). We didn’t see much overtaking action, it was a pretty straight-forward race won by Marco Wittmann. The only time he got challenged for his position was in the first 2 laps, after that he maintained a 1.5 second gap until the finish.
Following the Formula 3 was a drift show from which we didn’t see a thing: we were waiting for the pit lane to open! There are some similarities between the DTM and F1 paddock, loads of trucks, mechanics running around and the occasional driver who emerges from his box. What you don’t see are the massive motorhomes and security personnel, it’s more open to the public and you can go almost anywhere. Hankook, tyre supplier, had a big open tent so you can see how they mount the tyres. Since the cars make multiple stops a lot of those are needed and those guys where working pretty hard. Further there are the stands where you can by shirts, caps, cushions for your seat, lanyards and loads of other stuff. There were two major stands, one from Audi and one from DTM where series gear was sold. Prices are comparable with F1 team gear.
Finally the pit lane opened and we went to take a look at the boxes. And here is a major difference: everything is open to see. You can’t enter a box, but there are no screens, the cars are all visible even when the bodywork is taken off. All stuff used at stops is standing outside, the screens at the pit wall are open, nobody gets p#ssed when you take pictures, it’s very friendly. Some of the teams were doing the last work on the cars and starting them up in the box, those V8s make a nice sound from up close. Some drivers showed their faces and made some friendly chats with the fans, and took some time for pics and autographs. Meanwhile some VIPs were treated with some laps around the track in a 2-seater DTM, the pace cars were warming up (all Mercedes C63 AMG, yummy) and everyone got ready for the race. We got a bite to eat and then walked to our seats in the grandstand, with a good view on the starting grid, we were straight across the fourth row.
The starting grid is just like the F1 circus – pretty girls, carts with tyres and tools, all cars lifted up without their wheels and tyre heaters everywhere. The last interviews where given, we could follow everything since we had a big screen in front of us. Then the one minute call comes up, all wheels are mounted and in no-time every one leaves the race track, it is amazing to see how fast that all goes. Engines are started, revved up and then all cars are gone for the formation lap. Then it is time for the real thing and now you can hear the power from these cars, they are loud! There is a difference between the new and older Mercedes cars, the older ones sound so much more aggressive, but the sound levels are okay, we didn’t need earplugs.
I won’t give a race report, but is was an action-packed race, with some good passes in front of us. A lot of the position changes happen during the stops however, not so much on the track. But all in all, it is good fun to watch and if DTM is in your neighbourhood, you should go and check it out.
With kind regards,
Watch a small photo presentation by clicking here.
We’re going beyond Iberian Peninsula’s borders with this one! Many thanks to Rene for his post.
DTM is a frequent visitor to Estoril when it comes to winter testing but the Portuguese race is no longer on the calendar which is a shame. Portimão, Estoril or Porto – makes no difference to me personally. DTM is good fun anywhere, maybe somebody will bring it back to Portugal one day.