The current DTM cars are unbalanced when compared to the NASCAR Cup series and the World Rallycross Championship, says Mattias Ekstrom.
Ekstrom, who is leaving DTM to focus on his World RX team, completed a farewell weekend at Hockenheim in a seventh Audi RS5 and took a best result of 16th.
The Swedish driver previously made his NASCAR Cup series debut back in 2010 with two appearances for the Red Bull team, now known as BK Racing – and Ekstrom believes that the DTM car is “not healthy” compared to a WRX or a Cup car.
“I think it’s never easy to win,” he told Motorsport.com “But, frankly and honestly, the cars are underpowered, over-downforced, over-tyred. So, too good tyres, too much aero, too little [power].
“I did NASCAR and it’s [an] over-engined, under-tyred and under-downforced car and I drove an RX car and it’s under-tyred, under-aeroed, over-mechanical or neutral mechanical and overpowered.
“So the [DTM] formula is, I think, not healthy. It’s still the best man wins but it doesn’t create a good show. If you don’t create a good show, it is not healthy.”
Ekstrom believes that the changes to the DTM formula for 2018, including a 30 percent cut in downforce and simplified suspension, have made little impact.
“For me, it is peanuts difference to last year,” he said. “It’s a very small difference.”
Frijns: Lowered downforce a shame
Ekstrom’s replacement in Audi’s DTM line-up for 2018, Robin Frijns, described the lowered downforce a shame because his driving style suits high downforce.
Frijns, who took a best result of 12th at Hockenheim, told Motorsport.com: “They say ‘yeah, the car has lost all this downforce, everybody starts from scratch again’.
“But for me personally, I always like when the car has a lot of downforce going back to my time in World Series [Formula Renault 3.5] when I jumped in and I was quick straight away.
“It suits my driving style, same as Formula 1. So for me, it was a bit of a shame that they put 30 percent downforce away but it is the same [for everybody] in the end.”
Frijns has also driven for Audi in various sportscar categories since 2015 and says that his GT3 career proves he has already adapted to low downforce.
“I will not need to adapt again, I just like the feeling with a lot of downforce,” he said.
“In the last few years [in GT3] you have little downforce – comparing it between GT and DTM, it is a big step of course – so I adapted my style to GT3 as well.
“I don’t think it is going to be an issue, it’s just a shame my feeling with downforce will be a little less.”