Rowe Racing driver Timo Glock: Last tests with Space Drive before DTM 2021
"You wouldn't think that there was no mechanical connection to the steering gear"
ROWE RACING and Timo Glock used the second and last official DTM test before the 2021 season to get used to the innovative Space Drive steering system from Schaeffler Paravan. The former Formula 1 driver and DTM crowd favourite drove a total of 151 laps (690 kilometres) at the Lausitzring on Tuesday and Wednesday in his BMW M6 GT3, which no longer has a mechanical connection between the steering unit and steering gear, but is instead controlled by Space Drive steer-by-wire technology. In the interview, the 39-year-old talks about his first impressions of the new system.
What were your first impressions of the innovative Space Drive steering system from Schaeffler Paravan in the #16 BMW M6 GT3 from ROWE RACING?
Timo Glock: "I drove out in the car and at first thought: Whoops! That's something completely different. But the system was still set conservatively to form a basis for the BMW M6 GT3. For a race car, that was a bit strange at first, but then the settings were adjusted in just two minutes - and the initial thoughts had completely disappeared. Which was the big advantage: if someone tells you that you no longer have a mechanical connection to the steering gear, as a racing driver you first start to wonder. Because that is already an intervention in your craft. That's unusual, to say the least. However, I received a detailed introduction that gave me such a basic confidence that this gut feeling of no longer having a classic steering system was completely gone. The way it works was explained clearly and logically. Then the system starts, you drive out - and everything is as normal. I had no doubt that something was not working.
If someone had told me two years ago that there would be steering without a mechanical link, I would have said: yes, yes, maybe in 20 years.
Does it still feel different for the driver to ride in a vehicle with Space Drive? If you didn't know beforehand, would you still feel it?
Glock: "I think if you change the feedback a bit more, the driver would not get the idea that there is no mechanical connection to the steering gear. There are only small differences around the zero point of the steering, but they are still being worked on. You can still feel the deflection point from left to right minimally. But that hardly bothers me at all."
What can Space Drive do better than a "normal" steering system?
Glock: "The big advantage is that on bumps or curbs there are no more shocks or movements in the steering. The system filters them out completely. In addition, you can set the feedback of the steering the way you want it, theoretically you could set more feedback in slow corners and less resistance in fast corners. This also allows the driver to save forces, which is less relevant for us in the DTM than perhaps in endurance races."
How cool is it to be a driver involved in the development of such new technology?
Glock: "If someone had told me two years ago that there would be steering without a mechanical connection, I would have said: yes, yes, maybe in 20 years. The fact that this topic is now coming so quickly and that I can be a part of it is very exciting for me, something new and a completely different field of activity. I am very excited to see what more can be made of this system in the future."
After the last official test, what is the feeling for the start of the season on 19 and 20 June in Monza?
Glock: "I still have some question marks at the moment about the car and the tyres. We haven't yet found how I feel 100 per cent comfortable in the car. ABS brakes and traction control are completely new topics for me, so I still have to learn how to deal with them. The BMW M6 GT3 is a bit different to drive and I still have to adjust to that. I still have a few areas to work on. Let's see how we get to grips with that."