The wet weather did nothing to dampen the action, as Mercedes-Benz’s Pascal Wehrlein took his maiden DTM victory at the Brandenburg-based track, whilst BMW Motorsport celebrated Marco Wittmann’s title triumph with just two rounds left to spare.
The newly-announced Mercedes AMG Petronas reserve driver kept his cool and continued Stuttgart’s dominance, with Christian Vietoris making it a welcome 1-2 finish. Audi Sport’s Timo Scheider took his first podium spot since Zandvoort last year, as he was closing fast on the former GP2 driver, ending another long drought of success.
Daniel Juncadella was in with a chance of a podium spot in the early goings, but the Spaniard ended up fourth after having to serve a drive-through penalty for a yellow flag infraction, along with Robert Wickens suffering the same fate. It was one of the best result for Mercedes so far this season, with four of their cars in the top five. Adrien Tambay, Maxime Martin and Vitaly Petrov were also reprimanded.
Wittmann was able to steadily guide his BMW M4 to sixth, which makes him one of the youngest champions in the series’ 30-year history, ahead of last year’s title runner-up, Augusto Farfus. Martin Tomczyk was in the wars, as the 2011 champion was collected by Schnitzer teammate Bruno Spengler on the very first lap, as well as Audi Sport’s Jamie Green half way through the race. However, the Bavarian driver stayed out of further trouble and took a hard-fought eight place.
Miguel Molina and outgoing champion Mike Rockenfeller rounded out the top ten during a race which saw a lot of the field retire after multiple incidents. However, the main title contenders from Audi, Mattias Ekström and Edoardo Mortara, were out of the running as the dust finally settled.
Ekström retired on lap 27, after his left front wheel came loose, whereas Mortara finished 16th, having struggled with race pace during proceedings. This Italian chanced the first part of the race on slick tyres. Several drivers retired as a result of the slippery conditions, as Nico Müller parked his Audi in the garage after 14 laps, following contact with both Gary Paffett and Antonio Félix da Costa.
The Portuguese driver was also an early victim, as his M4 ended up in the gravel after contact between himself and Tambay. The Frenchman was also out of the race on lap 41 with damaged front right suspension, whilst Paul Di Resta parked his C-Class in the garage on lap after broken steering ended his charge. Timo Glock and Jamie Green also retired, with the latter being classed as the final car to finish the race.
Joey Hand finished 11th, having initially made a great charge from the back of the field, but the American came together with Rockenfeller, which saw him drop back down the order again.
Petrov and Paffett also struggled in the tricky conditions, finishing 12th and 13th respectively as the last of the Mercedes finishers. Maxime Martin and Bruno Spengler finished 14th and 15th, ahead of the Audi pair of Mortara and Green.
With one title firmly secured by Wittmann, there are just two rounds left to decide both the manufacturer and team titles, as the sands of the Dutch North Sea Coast beckon in just two weeks’ time.
Team RMG currently leads Team Abt by 75 points in the team standings, which sees Stefan Reinhold’s outfit on the verge of taking team title honours, whilst BMW is a mere 18 points ahead of Audi Sport in the hunt for the remaining spoils on offer. This means that at Zandvoort, the focus will be on both the team and manufacturers’ crowns once again, but could there be a second clean sweep in three years?
“Magic Marco” can now rest easy as his dream has been achieved, but the battle still rages on in the DTM.