ITR chairman Gerhard Berger says he is not open to the possibility of running DTM races behind closed doors.
Berger had previously against the idea of hosting DTM events without spectators, telling Red Bull-owned Servus TV earlier this month that fans were an essential part of the DTM championship.
“Our customers are called fans. And if the fans aren’t there, there won’t be any races.”
However, with the recent bans on mass public gatherings imposed by the German and Belgian governments, as a measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the DTM’s season-opener at the Norisring in July has been placed in doubt.
Berger now acknowledges that races without spectators could be necessary to get the 2020 season underway, although he maintains that trackside spectators remain his priority.
Speaking with Auto Motor und Sport, Berger was asked if he would consider races behind closed doors.
“Sure, in the current situation you have to think everything through.
“But our income is based on the event. So our main goal must always be to go live in front of the fans. ‘Ghost racing’ is just a way to get the ball rolling.”
He explained that ticket sales are essential to the DTM’s revenue model.
“In contrast to Formula 1, our model looks like we rent the race track,” Berger explained. “The income from the spectators and sponsors flows into our overall package.
“Formula 1 works differently. They get an entry fee from the race tracks, and the tracks have to recoup the money through ticket sales and government aid. Without spectator income, the organisers cannot refinance themselves.
“All other rights are held by Formula 1, so perhaps the tables will now turn. It is quite conceivable that in such a difficult time Liberty would forego the organisers’ income and thus be able to show races without spectators.”
When the DTM season will actually kick off remains unclear given the situation regarding the pandemic – something that Berger acknowledged.
“There are several scenarios. The best scenario starts in July. We would go through the whole season and plan with 10 races. The worst scenario is that there won’t be any races this year. And maybe there will be something in between.
“[An August or September start] could also be a consideration. But due to the falling temperatures on European racetracks it will not be possible to race from the end of November.
“Real planning is difficult for everyone, because neither experts can predict the worldwide coronavirus situation nor governments can take measures for public life in a predictable way. And something can always change depending on the development of case numbers.
“We are also dependent on sponsor and promoter contracts. The issue is complex.”