Following the fifth round of the DTM Series at the Moscow Raceway, a look back at the talking points that developed from the weekend.
BMW and their driver Marco Wittmann were not particularly happy with Audi following Sunday’s race in Russia. The Ingolstadt based outfit, used Nico Muller to hold up the pack which allowed Maro Engel to pass Wittmann.
Muller stayed out until just three laps prior to the end, in a deliberate ploy to allow Mattias Ekström to catch and pass the lead quartet of those who had already pitted.
Loic Duval quickly released Ekström who made quick work of Tom Blomqvist before getting by Wittmann on the penultimate lap.
Following the race Wittmann, said: “Unfortunately we hadn’t banked on Audi and Nico Müller’s tactic of leaving him out for an incredibly long stretch. At times he braked very early, even on the straights. He blocked us so that Mattias Ekström could catch up. That ruined our race and was very disappointing.”
Maiden Victory for Engel
Having started from the back row of the grid Engel, potentially did not expect to claim the first victory of his DTM career in the German’s fifth season in the championship.
Engel elected to serve his mandatory pitstop at the end of the first lap. The safety car was deployed after Maxime Martin flew off into the tyre barriers following contact with Duval which left the Belgian with a damaged radiator causing a brake failure.
After the safety car restart, Engel had the opportunity to pass Wittmann.
With Engel now theoretically in the lead of race, he just had to keep his car on track. However, Engel came under pressure from Esktröm who cut the gap to the former in the space of just a lap to cross the line with the Audi on his bumper.
Not only was it Engel’s first ever win but it was his first podium finish.
Ekström Leads the Championship
Despite having not yet won a race this season Mattias Ekström finds himself leading the championship.
Coming to Russia, the Swede was already on top in the standings ahead of Lucas Auer and Maxime Martin.
Following Saturday’s race Ekström dropped down to third in the championship after a difficult race which saw the Audi driver only manage eighth place as a result of contact with Timo Glock in the opening lap.
Ekström now leads the title race by one point ahead of Saturday’s race winner Rene Rast and 14 points ahead of Lucas Auer.
Mercedes to Leave the DTM Series
On Monday, shockwaves were sent when Mercedes announced they were taking the decision to leave the DTM after the 2018 season.
The Stuttgart based manufacturer is set to join its competitors in the FIA Formula E Championship but alike BMW and Audi who are also set to have full brand entries in the series they are going to cease racing in the DTM.
This has prompted questions with regards to the future of the DTM in its current form, which has existed since 2000.
Audi took to twitter to state their sadness to see their long time rival leave the championship, and to welcome them to Formula E. They also reaffirmed their dedication to the DTM.
After Opel left the series at the end of the 2005 campaign, the series ran with just two competitors until BMW rejoined in 2012 – leading Audi and Mercedes to unite in stating the series shall not be put in that position again.
Mercedes has allowed the series time to figure out where its future lies before they depart, but until then its future is in doubt.
Racing resumes 18-20 August at Zandvoort.