Marco Wittmann has been a BMW M Motorsport works driver since 2012, when he joined BMW as a test and reserve driver in DTM. He went on to win DTM championships with the M4 DTM in 2014 and 2016, becoming the youngest driver ever to win the title twice. He’s also driven for BMW at the classic endurance races, finishing second at the Nürburgring 24 hour in 2021 and third at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2021. When Wittmann was competing in DTM from 2012-2020, the series was using “Class 1” cars, which were basically prototypes with a sedan body. DTM switched to GT3-spec cars in 2021. This year, Wittmann is focusing his efforts on the DTM championship with Walkenhorst Motorsport with the M4 GT3. Wittmann also drove for BMW M Team RLL at the Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring races this year.
BimmerLife: How did you first get involved in racing?
Wittmann: For me it was from my family. They were always involved quite a lot with cars and motorsport. My grandpa was involved with BMW and my father had a garage to repair body work, so the link to cars and BMW was big in our family. I got my first go-kart when I was six. That’s how it all started. I ended up racing single-seaters in Formula BMW and then Formula 3, and then moved to DTM with BMW in 2012.
BimmerLife: When you were in single-seaters, was your goal to get into Formula 1?
Wittmann: When you’re in single-seaters your first thought is always going to Formula 1. For me, when I did Formula 3 the next step would have been Formula 2 or GP2 at that time. That was a huge step financially and for me it was impossible to do it, but at the same time I got a call from BMW to give it a go at a DTM test. BMW was pretty happy with the test, and they offered me a contract with the first year being as a testing and reserve driver. I made the decision at that point to change to touring cars. I knew the way to Formula 1 was too difficult and I didn’t have the right connections or money to go forward with that. I had to be realistic, and it was the right call. The year after I was a test driver, BMW gave me a drive in DTM, in 2013.
BimmerLife: How much did you have to change your driving style to go from single-seaters to DTM?
Wittmann: I didn’t have to change my driving style that much, honestly. At that time, the Class 1 DTM cars were very similar to a single-seater in terms of driving style, especially with coming from F3. My driving style actually fit DTM pretty well. The biggest change was the rules and obviously you didn’t see the front wheels anymore. You had to trust the system to know that the front left wheel was locking under braking, for example.
BimmerLife: It must have been a bigger change to go from the Class 1 DTM cars to GT3-spec cars.
Wittmann: For me I would say yes. Coming from Formula 3 it was quite an easy jump into the Class 1 DTM cars. Going from those DTM cars to the GT3-spec cars was a bigger jump, because the GT3 cars had the ABS and traction-control systems and less downforce, which requires a different driving style. You need to get used to it. It was easier for me because I always did some GT3 racing while I was in DTM, at the 24-hour races at Spa, Daytona and the Nürburgring. I was kind of used to those cars already.
BimmerLife: How do you like the new M4 GT3?
Wittmann: It’s cool. I like the design and shape of the car. It’s a really good car. We made a big effort and changes on the interior of the car. We made good steps from the M6 GT3. For now, it’s more about getting the car in the right working window. The car is new, so we need to find out better how it works best with the tires.
BimmerLife: How do you feel about the new era of DTM, that now uses GT3-spec cars?
Wittmann: It’s really positive that they’re getting more entries with a lot of different car brands and drivers. On the other side, I have to say the Class 1 cars were really cool to drive. They had a lot of power and downforce and didn’t have the systems like ABS and traction control. In terms of pure driving, I really liked the Class 1 cars but at the end of that era (in 2020) we only had two manufacturers (BMW and Audi) and it became difficult. Now we have six or seven brands and it’s getting good.
BimmerLife: Do you have a favorite track?
Wittmann: It’s definitely the Red Bull Ring in Austria, as well as the Norisring in Germany, which is a street circuit and is close to my home.
BimmerLife: What are you driving on the street?
Wittmann: At the moment, I have the new M3. It’s super good. It’s sporty and powerful but also comfortable for longer distance drives. I’m a big fan of the new M3 and M4.
[Photos courtesy BMW, David Haueter]