D he will find the start and the finale of the DTM season held in Hockenheim - that's how it has traditionally been all these years. But at the weekend the touring car scene goes on a big tour for the first time. The final has been moved to Shanghai, China. And the 2010 DTM champion will only be crowned in the metropolis.
Three drivers are still involved in the fight for the title. They all have a star on their hood. Audi already said goodbye to the title dream at Hockenheim. The only innovation in the Audi warehouse: After Alexandre Prémat has been kicked out, the Hong Kong Chinese Darryl O’Young will take the wheel in Shanghai.
Bruno Spengler has the best chances for the title. The French-Canadian leads the championship with 66 points. But his lead over team-mate Paul di Resta is very thin. Only three meters separate the two competitors. Gary Paffett also has a chance of winning the title, nine points behind Spengler. The starting position with the first guest appearance on the unknown street circuit makes the task a great challenge for the three title contenders.
The Shanghai Pudong Circuit is located in the middle of the city of Shanghai. The 2.465-kilometer circuit is a street circuit that was specially built for the DTM. The course has a mix of nine slow and fast corners. A journey into the unknown for all teams, which should increase the tension for the audience. 'This means that the cards will be completely reshuffled at the end of the year,' says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. 'While our competitor will experience a tough battle in our own team, we are free to drive for victory. It would be nice to implement this in a country as important for Audi as China.'
Above all the lack of grip on the public asphalt slopes will present the teams with a major challenge. This only develops over the course of the race weekend, the more rubber abrasion gets onto the road. This also changes the grip conditions from training to training. There is a risk that the engineers could gallop when it comes to tuning. But the drivers also have to be highly concentrated. The road surface should be bumpier than on permanent racetracks and the walls are not far on the narrow course. Even the smallest mistake can lead to failure.
The favorites in Shanghai are clear. Bruno Spengler, Paul di Resta and Gary Paffett have collected the most points of the season so far and will be at the top again in China. But it is difficult to predict who will come out on top in the end. Because with the new street circuit, too many unknowns are waiting for the DTM title contenders.
The nerves of the three are likely to be just as good in comparison. Spengler has competed for the title several times and knows how to deal with the pressure. Paffett also has plenty of experience after winning the title in 2005. Although di Resta cannot show that in the DTM, the Scotsman, who always looks hardy and relaxed, was well trained just through his experience in Formula 1 business and the title fight in Formula 3.
Expert opinion (Paul di Resta, Mercedes):
'The track layout suggests a tough and physically demanding race. Overtaking should be possible in some places. In the short term The rhythm between accelerating, braking and turning in is extremely challenging for drivers and cars. This requires a compromise between top speed and downforce during set-up. I am sure that the Chinese spectators will be delighted. '