Mercedes: DTM performance weights saga handled poorly in 2017
|By Tom Errington||Wednesday, October 11th 2017, 08:53 GMT|
Mercedes DTM boss Ulrich Fritz says the championship's performance weights have been handled poorly and that it should have been scrapped at the start of 2017.
The DTM opted to remove the weights system before its Red Bull Ring round and Audi then dominated in Austria, leaving rivals such as BMW's Marco Wittmann to say it had killed the competition.
But Fritz says the performance-weight problems existed when they were applied to the cars and that the DTM did not account for performance properly.
"I would have preferred it if the weight regulation had been set aside earlier," said Fritz.
"Whether a brand is strong on a particular weekend is not just a matter of the weight but also the extent to which the car is in harmony with that particular circuit, whether the engineers have found the right set-up and, above all, which driver has best coped with the track and its characteristics.
"In my opinion, far too little regard has been given to these aspects during the year.
"If a brand did not have a good weekend, then that was always explained in terms of weight - as if that was all there was to it."
The top Mercedes driver lies sixth in the drivers' standings, with Lucas Auer trailing points leader and Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom by 41 points with only the Hockenheim finale to go.
Mercedes also trails Audi in the manufacturers' standings by 166 points.
When asked if an earlier removal of performance weights would have helped Mercedes this year, Fritz said: "It would at least have meant one tactical tool fewer.
"Without weights, everyone would have been pushing their cars to full performance on every occasion, thus eliminating the tactical device of driving slower to shed weight.
"Unfortunately, even the attempt to take race performance as an indicator for allocating weight did not stop people driving tactically.
"I'm glad that we have now got rid of the weights."
Fritz added that the original intention of the performance weights made sense, promoting driver ability over car advantage, but that the system had been manipulated.
"It has to be said that the system was introduced not without reason," he said.
"The aim was to have the cars performing at a similar level and thereby put the drivers centre stage.
"And that could have worked, but not if weights are employed as a tactical element."