As the drivers prepare themselves for this afternoon’s final qualifying session of the season, BMW’s Marco Wittmann took the top spot in the final free practice of the year, with times around 6 tenths quicker than this morning due to the warmer weather that is hitting Hockenheim this weekend. This was even though drivers had their set-up compromised by three red flag periods during the hour-long session
The Team RMG driver set a time of 1:33.585, just 0.105 seconds ahead of Team RBM’s Joey Hand. Miguel Molina took third as the highest placed Audi driver, over a further tenth behind, as Mike Rockenfeller placed fourth ahead of a speedy António Félix da Costa.
Adrien Tambay took sixth, ahead of Timo Glock, with Nico Müller rounding out the top eight, who were separated by just over four tenths of a second.
Bruno Spengler showed an increase in performance, as his BMW Bank M4 DTM was ninth, ahead of Mattias Ekström, who was fastest in the morning’s first free practice session.
Gary Paffett was down at the very bottom of the order, but in the latter stages, the Briton surged to 11th in the times from 20th, placing him as the fastest Mercedes-Benz driver of the session ahead of Pascal Wehrlein.
Paul Di Resta made it three Mercedes drivers that were on the cusp of breaking into the top ten, as the Scot was within a tenth of a second of Paffett. Timo Scheider ended up fourteenth ahead of “Rookie of the Year,” Maxime Martin. Robert Wickens could only manage a time nearly seven tenths away from Wittmann’s benchmark.
Mere thousands of a second were separating the field, as Martin Tomczyk and Daniel Juncadella were 17th and 19th respectively. Augusto Farfus and Christian Vietoris again seemed to not have the right balance for their cars, placing 19th and 20th.
Jamie Green was one of two drivers that brought out the red flag, as the Brit beached his car off Sachskurve with just a few minutes left on the clock. Green eventually could manage a time that would see him in 21st, ahead of Edoardo Mortara.
Vitaly Petrov was the other driver that brought out the red flag with both incidents occurring at 20 minutes and 40 minutes into the session. The Russian driver suffered issues with a loose left rear wheel and a door on the first instance, with the second incident happening as a result of him going off at Sachskurve like Green, but his AMG C-Coupé hit the wall after spearing its way through the gravel trap.
Qualifying will see who will have the advantage going into tomorrow’s race, but with the field again split by 1.3 seconds overall, it’s going to be very tough for all concerned.
Qualifying gets underway at 14.45 this afternoon local time.