The DTM’s exclusive tire partner, Hankook, has developed a new generation of slick race tire for Germany’s premium saloon championship. Still the same dimensions as its predecessor, the new tire offers even more grip but degrades faster. While the Ventus Race Rain remains unchanged, the new Hankook slick has been developed to make races ‘more exciting and interesting’.
This season, both Saturday and Sunday’s races will be the same length: 55 minutes plus one lap. The drivers must also make one mandatory pit stop in each race. The cars are more powerful and have significantly less downforce. This makes the driver’s job even more demanding, particularly as it is no longer permitted to preheat the tires.
“That is a real challenge for the drivers. They will start with cold Ventus Race tires and low air pressures, and must get them working as quickly as possible,” explained Manfred Sandbichler, Hankook Motorsport director Europe. “They cannot afford to push too hard though, as the race tire only offers its full grip potential once it reaches an optimal temperature window. The pit stops will be particularly interesting. The drivers will come in on tires that have been brought up to the optimal working temperature, but will then head back out again on cold slicks. Anyone who is not careful and accelerates too hard could soon end up in the pit wall.”
The Hockenheimring is a real test for the newly-developed slick. The varied, high-speed circuit features slow and narrow sections, as well as fast corners and straights, making it one of the most demanding tracks on the DTM calendar. Above all, the fact that the cars so frequently drive over the high, sharp-edged kerbs at high speeds puts the Ventus Race under extreme strain.
“The Hockenheimring has a varied layout,” continued Sandbichler. “The drivers and engineers must bear this in mind when setting the car up, in order to find the optimal package. The balance of the car and the aerodynamics play a key role on the bumpy track ahead of turn two and the hairpin, as the drivers strive to minimise bouncing and find the ideal braking point. A low camber, combined with high air pressures, can reduce the strain on the Hankook race tire, particularly on the structure of the tire.”