This weekend, six top automotive brands – Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche – will be competing for championship points and victories. When Spielberg hosts the penultimate event of the 2023 DTM, Austrian fans decked out in the national colours of red, white and red will be cheering on local heroes Thomas Preining, Lucas Auer and Clemens Schmid. Preining is in with a real chance of becoming the first Austrian in DTM history to win the drivers’ title. Lucas Auer was also a contender in 2022, but ultimately had to settle for the runner’s-up trophy.
From the grandstands, you have great view of all the action. The drivers and their GT3 cars will be out on the race track for just short of four hours (240 minutes to be precise). This includes two 45-minute free practice sessions on Friday and 20-minute qualifying sessions on both Saturday and Sunday morning to determine the starting order for the respective race in the afternoon. The two DTM races are contested over a duration of one hour plus one lap.
If you have secured a ticket for the grandstand Start-Ziel, you are guaranteed the best view of the race start, not only of the DTM, but also of the ADAC GT Masters and the three partner series. The DTM starts in a rolling two-abreast formation of cars.
As any regular DTM fan will tell you, this epic German racing series is not particularly kind on the cars. ‘Swapping paintwork’ only vaguely describes the sort of wheel-to-wheel action when the contestants are jostling for places and points in the tight corners at Spielberg. Even minor offences are punished with a penalty lap. For this purpose, a penalty zone is designated on the track. The offending contestant has to drive through this defined area at a maximum speed of 50 km/h, which inevitably costs almost five seconds of time.
Spectators seated in the grandstand Start-Ziel also have a great view of the pit lane below. At some point in the race between the 20th and 40th lap, the DTM drivers are required to make a performance pit stop. The pit crews of the various teams change all four tyres, and there is no minimum standing time. Should there be a safety car or ‘full-course yellow’ (i.e. the yellow flag applies to the entire track) during the pit stop window, the race director can postpone the close of the window.
The official tyre supplier to the DTM in 2023 is Pirelli. Each team is allocated three/four new sets of tyres per race weekend. The Top Five on the grid are obliged to start the race on the tyres they used to set their fastest lap time in the corresponding qualifying session.
The Top 15 are awarded championship points. The winner scores 25 points and the runner-up 20. P3 earns a place on the podium and 16 points. P4 is worth 13 points. From fifth place (11 points) onwards, the points decrease by one per position until P15 which is worth a solitary point. There are additional bonus points for the three fastest drivers in each qualifying session – 3, 2 and 1 respectively.