There are many things in life that confuse me. Like why do people press harder on their remote controls when the batteries are dead, and why are fish flakes multi-coloured? But what perplexes me more than anything is why does the DTM continue to run on the Indy circuit at Brands Hatch?
The 1.2-mile circuit does not in any way complement Germany’s top-flight touring car category. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that it actually does it a great disservice, as the 98-lap event is nothing but a high-speed procession, akin to that of sitting in front of washing machine and watching it go round for an hour.
“The 98 laps in the race do get a bit repetitive.” Not my words, but those of HWA Mercedes driver Jamie Green, who also went on to tell Motorsport News: “You get fed up of going through the same corner all the time.”
So, if someone with one of the best seats in the house – behind the wheel of a 500bhp C-Coupe – finds the experience incredibly dull, then what hope do the spectators and viewers have of fending off the monotony from what is undoubtedly one of the most boring races on the calendar?
Perhaps the most important question, though, is why does the DTM run on such a diminutive circuit anyway?
I contacted circuit operator MotorSport Vision for an answer to this little conundrum and, two weeks on, have yet to receive a response, so I can only speculate as to why the Indy layout is used when the DTM is in town.
I don’t believe – like many have suggested – that it is a case of Brands Hatch having limited use of the longer Grand Prix circuit due to noise restrictions. If that were the case, why hasn’t anyone made use of it since the WTCC went elsewhere after 2010? Well, there are a couple of likely reasons why the DTM hasn’t.
The first is that while the Grand Prix layout is FIA Grade 2 licensed, it does not meet DTM’s stringent safety criteria. Secondly, a common conception is that they use the shorter circuit because it affords the spectators a greater view, plus it also creates an amphitheatre effect, making it look more impressive for the viewers at home.
While they may form part of the spectacle, cramming faces behind fences and bums on seats has absolutely no bearing on the racing action which, in the case of the DTM-Indy circuit combination, is regularly dull and devoid of any entertainment value. It makes you wonder what incentive there is for the series to return to the Kent venue year after year.
Of course, the DTM isn’t renowned for being a hotbed of overtaking, but the new technical regulations – along with BMW’s reappearance – seem to have spiced up the action this season, with the opening two races at Hockenheim and Lausitz serving up a few surprises and some brilliant racing.
With the levelling of the playing field and more talented drivers on the grid – five being of British origin – it is little wonder the series has begun to attract many new followers over here, especially now that race highlights are being shown on the unashamedly blokey channel ITV4.
Undoubtedly some of the series’ new fans ventured to Brands Hatch last weekend for their first live experience of the DTM, and you have to wonder how many grumbled their way back home afterwards, dismayed by the borefest they had witnessed and reluctant to return for more next year.
Which is a shame, because the series has a lot going for it at the moment, with its easily recognisable characters and cars which are fantastically awesome to watch, but not when they’re reigned back due to the confines of such a small venue.
The fundamental problem with running the DTM on the Indy circuit is that it is too small and does not allow the cars to fully stretch their legs. With its fast corners, overtaking is near enough impossible, with only Druids offering the slimmest of opportunities if a driver somehow manages to get a good run on their opponent.
The fact of the matter is that the DTM needs to operate on a circuit that is more fitting of the cars, and if they insist on using Brands Hatch as its UK destination, then series organiser ITR should consider running it to a two-race format to provide some much needed variation. But then, that’s less TV-friendly, so I guess that will never happen, unfortunately.
Image credit: lsphotos.co.uk