Michelin had originally advocated running the S9M hard tyre from its range after being announced as the DTM’s official tyre supplier for 2021. But the DTM made a late decision to adopt a compound that was one level softer amid concerns that a durable tyre could lead to monotonous racing.
The change in tyre compounds was blasted by Rowe Racing boss Hans-Peter Naundorf, who felt the S8M tyre doesn’t work well for the BMW M6 GT3 and degrades within “five-to-eight laps.”
Naundorf explained that there were a variety of reasons why the M6 was struggling with heavy degradation, adding that the S8M tyre could hand a clear advantage to BMW’s rivals.
However, Auer, who competed for BMW as a factory driver in 2020 before returning to the Mercedes fold this year as part of Winward Motorsport’s two-car entry, was impressed by his own experience with Michelin’s medium rubber in pre-season testing.
“For the other cars, it’s difficult to speak but I think [the tyre performance] was great,” Auer told Motorsport.com. “It was good that we chose this tyre.
“Michelin is a great tyre, has lots of consistency and I think [in general] S8 feels great. For me personally it’s a great choice and I believe for everybody it’s a great choice. It’s faster, you can lean a bit more on the tyre and it’s cool to drive.”
Five-time DTM race winner Auer caught the attention of the eagle-eyed on the second afternoon of the Lausitzring test, where he was able to lap consistently in high 1m44s and low 1m45s during a 30-lap long run – setting his quickest time on the penultimate tour on worn out tyres.
Auer said that although he did experience some degradation with the S8M compound, he was able to keep it under control and remain quick towards the end of the stint.
“Michelin is a great tyre and with great consistency,” said the Austrian driver. “And to be fair Lausitzring is anyway a low deg track so things could still change.
“Yes, I had a drop on the rear axle and the front axle overall but I could control it quite well. And also I gained some experience last year [in the DTM] because we had to manage the tyres.
“It was a good long run and a consistent good long run which I could easily manage, at least at the Lausitzring.”
The new GT3 era of the DTM will begin at Monza this month, with the Italian venue making its debut on the championship’s calendar.
Auer expects the Mercedes-AMG GT3 to perform well at the high-speed, low-downforce 5.79km circuit located north of Milan, but wants to reserve his judgement until the BoP for the season is finalised.
“You need to have some good top speed, you need to have good kerb riding and so on,” Auer said of Monza.
“I drove with the Merc already in Monza. For me I feel confident in the car. So if we get it right, we should be somewhere near, sometimes better, sometimes worse but I believe every track should be somehow manageable if we get it right.”
“I believe Hockenheim and also Lausitzring, they were fitting great to the Mercedes. But we have to do a couple of races and also BoP decides a lot on that. The rest would be a bit difficult for me to answer.”