A reduced entry list and, most notably, no fans will make this a Nürburgring 24 Hours with a twist. “It will be strange not to have the usual fanfare,” he says of an event that has grown in stature over the past few decades. “When you go from 250,000 people to almost none (I’m sure a few will sneak in), it’s going to be odd, not having the smell of barbecues. And maybe there will be less track graffiti, too, which can make it awfully slippery, especially if it rains.”
EXPERIENCE COUNTS AT THE ’RING
Dumbreck is one of those respected professionals who never got a shot at Formula 1 but instead has enjoyed a career rich in variety. He has probably had more fun than some of his contemporaries, and for Falken his vast experience is invaluable for a racing programme that’s built around tyre development for the road.
An avid cyclist, Dumbreck remains in top physical nick, but he’s realistically modest about what he offers Falken these days. “I’m well aware that I’m not the quickest driver around the Nürburgring any more, but I do have experience and a good pace,” he says. “In my 15 Nürburgring 24 Hours, I’ve seen pretty much everything, weather-wise. Like the year giant hailstones fell and everyone stopped on-track because no one could get up the hill from the Foxhole. That’s where the experience comes in.
“My first Nürburgring 24 Hours was in 2003 when at the time I was doing DTM with Opel. But by no means am I the most experienced. It would be fascinating to find the driver who has done the most races around there. It would probably be [German veterans] Peter Bonk or Volker Strycek, my old Opel boss. I’d be well down that list.”
Although still best known for surviving a terrifying flip in a Mercedes-Benz CLR at Le Mans in 1999, Dumbreck has chiselled out a fine career. Falken is lucky to have him.
SERGIO PEREZ SHOWS HIS CLASS
It was always likely that Lawrence Stroll would want to make a bold statement as he ushers Aston Martin back into Formula 1 next year, and luring a four-time champion certainly hits that mark. Sebastian Vettel is a trophy signing for the team currently known as Racing Point – but is he a better pick than the man he will replace?