DTM: Traction and aerodynamics are imperative at the Lausitzring
After a flying start to the season on the high-speed circuit at Hockenheim, next up on the DTM calendar is round two this weekend on the technically demanding Lausitzring.
On the 2.16 mile DTM circuit in Germany’s Lausitz region, there are very few fast passages, but many challenging corners. A maximum speed of almost 155 miles per hour is reached on the finish straight, with drivers having to slow down to 46 mph in the tight infield. In the past few years here, the race tires of the exclusive DTM partner Hankook have provided pilots with consistently high traction, which enables them to accelerate quickly out of the slow corners. Despite the high stress placed on the tread and the construction of the tires, in the previous DTM races the Ventus Race rubber sustained very little wear.
The Lausitzring is driven counter-clockwise making it one of three circuits on the DTM tour with the track running in a left direction. The double-header on Saturday and Sunday are contested on the Grand Prix circuit with its smooth and compact dark asphalt. For the pilots, it is important to get the Hankook slicks up to the optimal temperature as quickly as possible, which is in the region of 194 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. “Our tires work best within this range and deliver the highest level of grip. For this, teams need to find the best combination of the right air pressure and vehicle setup in terms of traction and aerodynamics. However, the dark track surface also contributes to slightly higher asphalt temperatures,” explains Hankook’s DTM race engineer Thomas Baltes.
One key passage is at the end of the finish straight where the pilots negotiate a tight left-hander turning into the twisty infield. Under braking and while turning in, this offers good overtaking possibilities. Sometimes the kerbs become part of the racing line, which ultimately puts the tire structure under increased load. This, however, does not pose a problem for the Ventus Race rubber. Thomas Baltes: “Drivers need a lot of traction in the slow infield passage, and a lot of top speed on the straights. It is therefore imperative on the Lausitzring to find the right balance between mechanical grip and aerodynamic downforce.”
The Hankook race tires must also demonstrate a good overall performance on the 2.16 mile track. When dreaded bouncing occurs on the straights and in several slightly cambered corners – which affects the front of the car – the structure of the race tires comes under pressure, while the many braking and accelerating phases put the tread under stress. “In the past few years we saw that the front left tire sustained more wear, and sometimes there was flat spotting. This happens while braking hard into slow corners, but it also very much depends on the driving style of the pilots,” outlines Hankook’s DTM race engineer.
Another factor that can play a critical role in the Lausitz is the unpredictable weather. Even with brief showers, water collects in the infield and can quickly become several centimeters deep. Under these conditions, drivers can still totally rely on the performance of the rain tires from the premium manufacturer Hankook. Thomas Baltes: “We competed here several times on full wet and there were no problems whatsoever. Our wet tires worked perfectly here too.”