It is a slightly different Oschersleben that will greet the DTM pack this year, following off-season earthworks aimed at improving the spectacle on and off track.
A 90-degree left-hander now replaces the fast first corner, designed to allow out-braking opportunities at the end of the main straight as cars slow from speeds of more than 230kph to about 70kph - a big step down from the 170kph cornering speed of last year. The circuit is now 3.696km long - the fourth longest on the DTM calendar after Mugello, Hockenheim and Zandvoort - and, despite not being to everyone's tastes, still finds favour with many of Mercedes' DTM squad.
“The remodelled first corner makes the track even more demanding for the drivers, as we have to slow down from more than 230kph to about 70kph 44 times during the course of the race," Mika Hakkinen commented, "This should allow out-braking manoeuvres, which is good for the spectators.“
The venue, in the east of Germany, cannot claim to favour any one of the marques currently competing, with Schneider, Paffett and Marcel Fassler claiming three wins for Mercedes, but Opel and Audi also enjoying a share of success, with the current DTM leaders celebrating wins for Kristensen in 2004 and 2006. The Dane, however, will be missing this weekend, opening the door for others to taste success.
Gary Paffett and fellow 'older-spec' drivers Alexandros Margaritis and Paul di Resta all admit to liking the circuit, with the Scottish rookie having recent single-seater experience there.
“One year ago, I won an F3 Euroseries race at Oschersleben, therefore I know that this twisty circuit is physically very demanding and requires maximum concentration," he said, "I want to maintain the momentum following my fifth place in Hockenheim and aim to score points again.“
Veteran Schneider, however, knows that the weekend will start with some intensive work right from the beginning, particularly in light of Mercedes' disappointing showing in the season-opener at Hockenheim.
“It is not easy to find a good set-up in Oschersleben," he explained, "Therefore, Friday's tests are even more important. Here, we have the opportunity to prepare for the race with long runs and try different things for qualifying. We have to improve on the Saturday to achieve better results in the race.“