This time it's different

In 2014, Marco Wittmann drove this M4 DTM to the DTM driver’s championship. Now it’s time for Bimmer’s own Helmut Werb to find out what makes Wittmann’s high-tech, high-downforce race car so successful…and to try out the M235i Racing, as well, before th

February 26, 2015
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It’s the brakes.

Hitting the ceramic brakes of the BMW M4 “Ice Watch” DTM race car feels like smashing into a concrete wall. The immense deceleration pulls my intestines into my shoes and makes my shoulders scream in pain where the six-point harness anchors me to what one might charitably call a seat. My right leg strains from the pressure, and my eyeballs want to pop out of my skull.

I’d driven my first lap on the Monteblanco race track near the Spanish town of Sevilla with barely any braking power at all; to work properly, the gigantic ceramic brakes needed to heat up, and it wasn’t until my second lap that the radio voice in my helmet declared those humongous discs hot enough for full pressure.

And boy, do they work fine now!

The start/finish straightaway at Monteblanco is about a kilometer long, roughly two-thirds of a mile. Half of it goes downhill, and then it dips and turns slightly uphill. You come barreling down the aforementioned straightaway as fast as the M4 lets you, around 150 mph in sixth gear, with the shift lights on the steering wheel beginning to turn red as you approach the brutal right at the end of it—a U-turn almost, which demands second gear at about 40 mph before opening up into a fast, left-hand sweeper.

The first brake sign on the straightaway comes up at 300 meters.

Ignore it.

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