David Schumacher surprised by friendlier DTM environment

David Schumacher says the convivial atmosphere in the DTM has come as a shock this year, having felt he had “no friends” during his time in single-seaters.

David Schumacher, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD Mercedes-AMG

Schumacher initially tried to follow in the footsteps of his father Ralf, a six-time Formula 1 race winner, by trying to establish a career on the European single-seater ladder.

But after two mixed seasons in FIA Formula 3 that yielded a best result of 11th in the championship and a sole victory at the Red Bull Ring, the German driver called time on his open-wheel stint last year and moved to DTM with the Winward Mercedes team in 2022.

Schumacher feels his switch to DTM this year has not just been beyond adapting to heavier GT3 cars, as he has been surprised by how much friendlier the environment was on his debut in sportscar racing.

"It’s completely different from what I’ve known in formula [cars]," the 20-year-old told Motorsport.com's sister title Motorsport-Total.com.

""There it’s basically every teammate, they have the biggest fights, never talk to each other. In formula there is no friends, only enemies, it’s quite a different approach here.

"In the end we are still competitors, we are still racing against each other but in a more open way than in formula [cars].

"I found a team in Winward where I’m really happy and now I’m here and doing my best and the team, I feel really at home here already, it's quite nice surroundings. It’s a bit I’d not say, chillier, but its more open than in formula paddocks."

Schumacher has teamed up with reigning champion Maximilian Gotz and seven-time race winner Lucas Auer at the factory-supported Winward squad this year, and feels both have been sharing their experience with him to varying degrees.

"Of course I’m asking for advice from both of them, and most of the time they also help me, so they are quite open when it comes to this.

"Luggi [Auer] is a very nice guy, he’s open. He’s a quiet guy, he’s not speaking too much. Sometimes he’s getting hyped a bit and then we are having some fun, but I think Maxi is more open in that way.

"Maxi is going to the end of his career slowly, he’s 36 I think, so he’s a bit more open in that way. Luggi is still a young gun like me, so who knows what’s going to happen."

David Schumacher, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD

David Schumacher, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Mercedes has the biggest representation of any manufacturer on the DTM grid this year with eight cars and essentially treats the entire operation as one team, having decided to invest heavily in the series upon its switch to GT3 rules last year.

As part of its ‘one team’ philosophy, Mercedes ensures easy access to data including onboard videos after each session, allowing its drivers to make tangible improvements in the middle of a race weekend.

Schumacher praised Mercedes for its approach to the DTM after a 2021 F3 season in which his Trident team was no match to the all-conquering Prema squad.

"We are eight cars now from Mercedes and we always get the data of everyone, especially for me as a young driver it’s a really big advantage to see eight different cars and to overlay the data, ‘where is everyone better’ and ‘what is the other one doing, how is his driving style’ and so on," he said.

"This is a big advantage for me as a young driver who just came into the series.

"I remember in Formula 3 last year there was sometimes Prema against us were like half a second faster for example and we were just sitting there with the mouths down and we didn’t know how the hell it was possible.

"And there I would like to have this opportunity. Here is basically now that it works to just open the data and say ‘okay, let me see the data of Maro Engel for example’ and they can show me. It’s quite a good job AMG is doing there."

Schumacher scored a best finish of 14th in the first half of the 2022 DTM season, although a possible points finish went begging at the Lausitzring when he made a slow start from 10th on the grid.

The German driver feels he is still finding it hard to adjust to the ABS system, which became mandatory in DTM following its switch to GT3 machinery in 2021.

"I made a step, for sure, but there is still a lot to learn and improve on," he explained.

"I mean, there is still some types of corners I still don’t understand in the car, for example hard braking zones is something I still don’t really get so much with the ABS working system, it’s quite difficult for me to understand because the ABS is basically reducing your speed by the technology or whatever. 

"Because the brake pedal keeps moving and then the pressure is changing and on the graph sometimes up and down which is a bit confusing for me because I never had that in formula [cars] obviously, this is still some stuff that I really need to work on."

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