The Norisring hosts the fourth round of the 2014 DTM season this weekend, as the streets of the ‘Franconian Monaco” saw qualifying get underway this afternoon.
With high speeds, heavy braking zones and the smallest number of corners on the 2.3km track challenging all, it was Mercedes-Benz that secured its first front row lockout this season. Canadian ace Robert Wickens took the fight to BMW and Audi and stormed to pole position for tomorrow’s race, ahead of stablemate Paul di Resta, with both drivers being the only ones to break the 48-second barrier.
“Mr. Norisring,” Jamie Green, was the highest-placed Audi Sport driver, as the Brit will line up against Germany’s Pascal Wehrlein. 2005 Champion Gary Paffett, who had his fair share of dramas in the latter stages of the race last year with Edoardo Mortara, placed fifth on the grid, ahead of Oschersleben winner Christian Vietoris.
Mattias Ekström was the next of the Audis to emerge in the top ten, placing seventh, but was handed a five-place grid penalty, as Race Control had decided that the two-time champion had impeded Wehrlein during qualifying.
Marco Wittmann now inherits the place as the highest placed BMW driver, on a track where the Munich outfit has struggled in comparison, as Adrien Tambay will line up with the current points leader on row four.
Audi and BMW seemed to struggle in terms of overall speed over the shortest lap time on the calendar, whereas Mercedes were clearly on the pace. Nico Müller, defending champion Mike Rockenfeller placed ninth and eleventh respectively, but it was a torrid time for Miguel Molina, Mortara and Timo Scheider, who ended up 18th, 20th and 21st.
BMW found that they were a lot further behind that what has been shown in their current form this season so far, as Maxime Martin rounds out the top ten for the first time this season, with Timo Glock three places behind along with Joey Hand, who was ahead of both Augusto Farfus and 2012 champion Bruno Spengler in 15th and 16th.
Martin Tomcyzk and Antonio Felix da Costa were both eliminated in the first session of the afternoon, placing 19th and 22nd, as the remaining Mercedes drivers Daniel Juncadella and Vitaly Petrov were not able to mirror the performances by their brand colleagues, ending up in 17th and last place. Just seven tenths of a second split the entire field over one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar.
83 laps will hopefully see a winner by the Dutzendteich this season, as no one will want to see a repeat of what happened last year, when no winner was declared despite a fantastic performance from Ekström. Anything can happen in Nuremberg tomorrow.