How to race a Lamborghini DTM car

23rd September 2021
Nathan Chadwick

Esmee Hawkey faced an uphill struggle for 2021 – the reigning Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am Champion had been due to compete in the European Le Mans Series with Iron Lynx Motorsport Lab before licence issues meant she was dropped from the team. However, a late deal saw Esmee line up on the DTM grid with T3 Motorsport’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 car. We spoke to Esmee prior to the most recent round at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, just after the 23-year-old’s first taste of the Nürburgring.


“I think everyone on the grid had more experience around there than I had – the practice sessions were my first laps around there, and other people’s 100th,” she laughs. “It was fun, even with tricky conditions – dry and wet, that’s what the Nürburgring offers.”

Though Esmee has yet to get into the points this year, she believes the season is going quite well considering she’d done hardly any testing and had no prior GT3 experience. “I didn’t have many expectations going into the season – I knew it was going to be tough going into the deep end in my first year in a GT3 car and against mostly factory drivers,” she says. The 2021 DTM season features the likes endurance racing old hands such as Marco Wittmann, Mike Rockefeller and Kevin van Der Linde, while former Formula 1 drivers such as Alex Albon and Timo Glock are also getting stuck in. “We qualified 12th at the opening weekend at Monza, which was a shock for myself and many others, I think.”

The switch from a Porsche Carrera Cup GB car to a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 car has been the biggest learning curve. “The Lamborghini has anti-lock brakes and traction control, which are new things to me,” Esmee says. “There are so many different things you can do in the cockpit yourself while driving around the circuit – this was something had to get to grips with quickly going into the first round.”


Adapting to a new braking system is a huge challenge for any driver – witness Danny Ricciardo’s struggles with his McLaren in Formula 1 for the first half of 2021. “The Porsche was definitely a good place to learn lessons in braking, especially without ABS. It means you really have to focus on your brakes, and get the peak, and the correct bleed off – lessons that I’ve been able to take into the Lamborghini, fine tuning bits and pieces to get it perfect,” says Esmee. “If you’re in the Porsche with no ABS, you can brake at 50 bar and that’s about it or you’re going to be locking all four wheels, whereas in the Lamborghini you’re absolutely stamping on the pedal trying to brake at 100 bar. The trace we see in the data is very similar, it’s just fine tuning it and understanding when to roll out of it, when to have the higher peak pressure, and try not get too much ABS induced into the braking – there’s a lot of things to think about and understand.”

Managing weight distribution has also been one of the season’s big challenges. “I thought that being mid-engined, the Lamborghini would be easier to drive but it’s actually harder due to the weight distribution – you don’t really know whether it’s at the front or the rear,” Esmee says. “With the Porsche you know you can send it all to the front with the brakes, and then when you accelerate it all goes to the rear.”

The Lamborghini does have some specific advantages, says Esmee. “We’re lucky in that the Lamborghini can take a lot of kerbs. The biggest weakness with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is that it can’t, not to the level we can.”


The DTM is largely confined to Germany and Austria for 2021, which has provided another challenge. Although Esmee has some experience on some tracks in the calendar through her time in the 2019 W Series, this doesn’t provide much in the way of advantage. “The aero balance is so much higher in a single seater, so the way you take corners is completely different,” she says. “You might think you know it, but to actually drive, it’s like an entirely different track.”

Esmee uses a home simulator setup to help prepare for the races, given there often hasn’t been time to test prior to each weekend’s practice sessions. “The simulator’s good for track layout, you can get a feel for it, get into a rhythm and work out whereabouts your braking points are likely to be,” Esmee says. “If I’ve never been to a circuit before, it’s great to go on the simulator and learn where you are going and what lines you can take, and play about as the consequences aren’t as big as they are in real life!”

The biggest learning curve – literally – was the turn one banking at the Lausitzring, which caught Esmee out in race one. “It’s just one of those things where as a racing driver we’re always pushing to the limit – looking at the data it’s crazy to think that the difference between getting around the corner and not was 3kph,” says Esmee. “It’s those small margins where you push that extra bit and it’s too far.”


Esmee was much more enamoured with Monza, a place where she had some experience in Porsche Carrera Cup three years ago. “I really love the circuit and the Italian fans a great,” she says. The big ambition is to race at Spa Francorchamps, but Esmee has a lot of love for her home circuit, Brands Hatch. “I’m a little upset that we don’t come over to the UK with the DTM, as they’ve raced there before,” she laughs. “I’d love to come over with the DTM – just having that little edge where you know a track so well really does help you. We have some amazing circuits in the UK, so I miss them a lot.”

With more than half the season gone, the target is to get into points positions. “We finished 11th at the Nürburgring, just one place away – it’s good to see we’re making good steps forwards,” Esmee says. She’d love to back in the DTM next year, but the focus is very much on this year for the time being. “To go into a second year with DTM, with all the knowledge I’ve gained, would be the ideal thing I’d like to do.”


Esmee’s clearly loved her experience in GT3, and sees the category as her long term future. “There are so many different series and prestigious series you can do in GT3 cars; I’ve got a few goals I want to achieve and GT3 is the place for me and what I’m enjoying most at the minute,” Esmee says. “However, you never know which opportunities arise through your career so we’ll see what happens, but GT3 is the route we’re on at the minute.”

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

  • Esmee Hawkey

  • Interview

  • DTM

  • Lamborghini

  • Huracan

  • DTM 2021

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