Button fears "unfair advantage" for DTM cars in joint race
Jenson Button fears the use of Hankook tyres will give DTM teams an “unfair advantage” over their Super GT rivals in the first joint race between the two series.
DTM and Super GT have agreed to host a crossover race at Fuji Speedway in November as part of efforts to align their technical rules package, which will follow a small number of Super GT cars racing in the DTM finale at Hockenheim as wildcards.
Hankook has been appointed as the control tyre supplier for the Fuji round, the South Korean company winning the contract over the four manufacturers that supply the Super GT field.
Button feels DTM teams may benefit from their experience of racing Hankooks, particularly as Super GT outfits are accustomed to close relationships with their respective tyre suppliers.
“[For] one standalone race, I think it’s very exciting to have six manufacturers racing,” Button said. “Obviously I think it’s more difficult for Super GT [teams] because we don’t know the tyre.
“The other manufacturers [in] DTM, they race with this tyre for the last five years and they will race with this tyre all year this year. One race I think it makes it a little bit unfair for Super GT because we have no experience with the tyre.
“Anyway the spectacle is what Super GT and DTM want, to have so many cars racing. And I think it will be fun. I just hope it’s not an unfair advantage to the European manufacturers.”
Former Super GT champion Nick Cassidy, whose TOM’S team runs the same Bridgestone tyres as Button’s Kunimitsu squad, admitted that there was an advantage to be gained, but conceded that the two series faced a tough task in choosing a supplier.
“I think both categories’ management were in a difficult position when choosing which tyres to use,” Cassidy told Motorsport.com. “Of course from a team or car point of view it is an advantage to use whichever tyres you have the most experience with.
“However there are many contracts and agreements in place that even us drivers aren’t aware of, so it seems the level of performance between the two series wasn’t the main priority when selecting which tyres we would use for a joint event."
Jann Mardenborough, whose Kondo Racing Nissan team runs on Yokohama tyres, said any early advantage for DTM cars could be mitigated if Super GT teams are offered sufficient running on Hankooks in the run-up to the race.
Super GT teams have already got their first taste of Hankook tyres, with one squad from each of the three manufacturers undertaking limited testing work at Fuji in March.
"If the Super GT teams are getting mileage on the same specification of Hankook tyres that will be used in the joint races then there won’t be an big advantage to anyone,” Nissan GT Academy graduate Mardenborough told Motorsport.com.
“In Super GT we are constantly racing on different variations of tyres with development, the teams are quick at adapting and understanding new rubber with setup."
Additional reporting by Tomohiro Yoshita
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