You know how disappointing it can be when you meet someone from TV and they aren’t quite the same. In real life they just don’t live up to expectations, escorted by an entourage of stylists, strategists and therapists who help our overworked celebrities manage their schedule.
This is not the case with David Coulthard.
He is funny, very approachable, in fact exactly as you see him on television. I had the opportunity to talk to him and fellow racing drivers, Jamie Green, Paul Di Resta, Gary Paffett and Joel Eriksson last week about the DTM which, luckily for us is coming to Brands Hatch 11-12 August.
The DTM which stands for German Touring Masters is a championship for blisteringly fast touring cars with 4 litre 500hp V8s punching out lap times more like the sort of beast one finds screaming down the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans rather than the touring cars we are used to in the UK.
I asked David Coulthard and fellow drivers about the DTM.
William – David, what is your role in DTM
David Coulthard – I was always a fan when I was in F1. I saw my old team mate Mika go to the DTM and have some success and felt I was destined to go and try it, to and see what it was like. Jamie, Paul and Gary have all worked in F1 .The standard of driving in DTM is equal to that of F1. It doesn’t have the global platform that F1 has but it has grown to have races in other European countries. There are a lot of British drivers, Gary and Paul have both won the championship. Gerhard Berger is a pure racer and has realised there is an opportunity in the UK, it’s an important market with two German manufacturers and the possibility of more next year.
W – How does it compare with the British Touring Car Championship
Gary Paffett – The BTCC is a great championship but DTM is faster. It’s a different driving style, there is more wheel to wheel contact in BTCC. DTM cars have a lot of downforce and a lot more power. The lap times are a lot closer, you have to be more precise.
David Coulthard – I think front wheel drive cars should be illegal ! It’s another way of thinking. BTCC is great racing and I respect the drivers but DTM cars are a step up.
W – Are they really prototypes in disguise
Jamie Green – DTM is not really comparable to BTCC, they are like prototypes, it’s got a proper racing chassis, BTCC cars are based on road cars, we’re probably 15 seconds a lap quicker.
Gary Paffett – There’s not one part of a DTM car that comes from a road car.
David Coulthard – The badge on the front is from the road car. The roof used to be metal but now it’s carbon fibre.
Gary Paffett – The cars have got carbon fibre bodies that resemble road cars.
W – Is it difficult not being able to communicate with your team during a race
Paul Di Resta – They’re not allowed to talk to us but we can talk to them, they just can’t answer back.
David Coulthard – Does that mean it changes the way you operate the car
Paul Di Resta – No, it just means we have much longer meetings before the race.
Jamie Green – Gerhard Berger wanted to take it back to the old days with more decisions made by the drivers, we’ve got a pit board, we have to think for ourselves, which I quite like.
W – Why do so many F1 drivers opt for the DTM
Jamie Green – Everybody on the grid is being paid to race, it’s one of the most professional championships in the world. In F1 some of the drivers are there because they bring sponsorship. In DTM you have a mixture of drivers coming from F1 and drivers like Joel who is going up.
W – Joel, is DTM a stepping stone for you on the way to F1
Joel Eriksson – The dream is still there, it’s hard to say what is in the future, at the moment I’m racing DTM but for the future the dream is there. We don’t have to dream. Make sure you get to Brands Hatch the weekend of the 11th – 12th August. You won’t be disappointed or need an entourage to get in and you’ll be surprised at how close you can get to the action.
Brands Hatch is the perfect track for DTM. It is a non stop roller coaster ride of a track. The first bend, Paddock Hill is so steep it’s like falling off a cliff. If it rains a stream forms and runs across the track at the bottom of Paddock Hill which will momentarily cause the cars to aquaplane. Spectators can get really close to the action at Druids Hill Hairpin which is the slowest part of the circuit and from the grandstands along the pit straight they can view half of the circuit. And as ex Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger who is in charge of the DTM has said “Brands Hatch is the best circuit in the world “.
William Lansbury 27th July 2018