Gary Paffett's 14th DTM win was not enough to prise the series title away from Timo Scheider at the Hockenheimring.
Scheider, driving an Audi against Paffett's Mercedes C-Class entered the final round at the track with a healthy seven point margin, and started the 39 lap race one spot behind the Englishman in third as the pair lined up behind Mattias Ekstrom.
It was a predictably fraught opening few laps.
Off the line Scheider tried to jump both of those ahead of him on the outside of the first two corners, move that finally came to an end when Paffett firmly closed the door as the entered the vast, sweeping Parabolica.
Now free to concentrate on the leader, Paffett edged Ekstrom onto the grass on the outside of the corner, the Audi briefly rallycrossing before regaining the track on the way to the hairpin. Then as the pair made the apex of the turn Ekstrom clipped the rear of Paffett's car, and when they emerged onto the following straight the bottom element of the familiar, large Audi grill had disappeared.
A lap later, Paffett ran wide in the hairpin on the far side of Hockenheim's F1 layout, allowing Ekstrom to slip alongside and ease him wide. The two banged door-to-door the length of the straight and the following two corners, before Paffett finally clear the Red Bull sponsored car. Ekstrom would make a similar stick as he out-braked his rival a lap later, forcing him wide and into a defensive line to protect his position from Scheider.
But Ekstrom's lead was not to last long. After only four laps the Swede brought his Red Bull sponsored car into the pits, his damaged radiator predictably causing overheating, and into retirement.
That handed the Paffett back the lead, shadowed by Scheider, 0.4 seconds behind, followed by Paul di Resta and a gaggle of leading cars.
It was Paffett who blinked first of the leaders to make his first of two compulsory pitstops on lap 13, with Scheider and di Resta coming in together two laps later.
The order remained unchanged as the leaders fought their way through those pitting later, Scheider and di Resta having to fight their way past Kristensen as the Dane fought to revive his race after a first lap mishap with Martin Tomczyk that saw the latter retire.
As the pack made their second stops Paffett kept the lead, albeit by a small margin, and with Scheider in second the championship seemed secure, and on any other day that may have been it.
But it wasn't, with eight laps to go, Scot Susie Stoddart span exiting the first corner, backing her car hard into the tyre barrier, destroying the rear end and ending her race. While Stoddart was uninjured the location of the car called for the safety car, closing the field up.
However, the opportunities for change were never really seized and it was Paffett that won the race, from Scheider, di Resta and Alexandre Premat in a year old car.
The result was good enough for Scheider to clinch the title by five points, making him the first driver to retain the DTM title since Bernd Schneider won in 2000 and 2001. I also made Audi the first manufacturer to win three consecutive titles, with Scheider's brace following Ekstrom's 2007 win.
“This season, we have scored four victories. That means that we had a great car throughout the year. We haven't won the championship and obviously, I am now slightly disappointed. However, we can be satisfied. We had a good year,“ said Paffett
“This is a moment in my life that I can only hardly describe,” managed Scheider. “I owe all this to my team, to Audi and especially to my family, and that makes me really proud.”