ROWE RACING driver Timo Glock: “You would never think that there is no mechanical link to the steering gear”
Former Formula 1 driver gains initial experience in the #16 BMW M6 GT3 with the Space Drive system from Schaeffler Paravan at the DTM test at the Lausitzring
ROWE RACING and Timo Glock used the second and final official DTM test ahead of the 2021 season to familiarise themselves with the innovative Space Drive steering system from Schaeffler Paravan. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the former Formula 1 driver and DTM crowd favourite completed a total of 151 laps of the Lausitzring (690 kilometres) in his BMW M6 GT3, which no longer has a mechanical link between the steering unit and the steering gear. Instead, it is controlled using Space Drive steer‑by‑ire technology. In an interview, the 39‑year‑old discusses his initial impressions of the innovative system.
What were your first impressions of the innovative Space Drive steering system from Schaeffler Paravan in the #16 ROWE RACING BMW M6 GT3?
Timo Glock: “I headed out in the car and immediately thought: crikey! That is totally different. The system had still been configured quite conservatively at that point, in order to lay a foundation for the BMW M6 GT3. That was a little strange at first for a race car, but then the settings were all adjusted within a couple of minutes – and my initial thoughts disappeared completely. What was the big advantage? If someone were to tell you that you no longer had a mechanical link to the steering gear, you would be a bit upset at first. After all, it is interfering with what you do. It is certainly unfamiliar. However, I was given a thorough introduction, which gave me so much fundamental confidence that it completely did away with that gut feeling that you no longer have a classic steering system. The way it works was explained clearly and logically. Then you fire up the system, head out onto the track – and everything is like normal. I had no concerns that anything might not work.”
As a driver, does it feel different to drive a car with Space Drive? If you didn’t know you were doing so, would you still feel it?
Glock: “I believe, if you changed the feedback a little, then the driver would never think that there is no mechanical link to the steering gear. Only around the zero point of the steering system are there still minor differences, but they are still working on that. You slightly notice at the point when you switch from steering left to right, but that hardly bothers me at all.”
What can Space Drive do better than “normal” steering?
Glock: “The big advantage is that you no longer get any impact or movement in the steering on bumps or kerbs. The system filters that out completely. Furthermore, you can configure the steering how you like it. In theory, you could set it up so that you receive more feedback in slow corners and less resistance in fast bends. That allows the driver to save his strength, which is perhaps less relevant for us in the DTM than in endurance races.”
How cool is it, as a driver, to be involved in the development of new technology like this?
Glock: “If you had told me two years ago that there would be a steering system without a mechanical link, I would have said: Yeah, yeah, perhaps in 20 years. The fact that this has come about so quickly and that I can be a part of it is very exciting for me – something new and a completely different field of work. I am very intrigued to see how much more we can get out of this system in the future.”
With the final official test now behind you, how do you feel about the season-opener on 19th and 20th June in Monza?
Glock: “At the moment, I still have a few question marks with regard to the car and the tyres. We have not yet found a way to make me feel 100 percent comfortable in the car. ABS brakes and traction control are completely new to me, so I still have to learn how to cope with them. The BMW M6 GT3 is a bit different to drive, and I have to adapt to that. I still have a few areas to work on. Let’s see how we get on.”