After 16 races the end of the 2017 DTM Series is nigh with the finale taking place this weekend at the Hockenheimring.
Heading into the final round, Mattias Ekström sits on top of the championship standings on 172 points, 21 points ahead of Rene Rast on 151 and Jamie Green on 137. Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Wittmann – the highest place non-Audi – are level on 134 points. Having been leading the championship early on Mercedes‘ Lucas Auer also finds himself with a slim chance of claiming the title.
Though it looks like Ekström will take the title, the five other drivers mathematically still have a shot at claiming title.
“Obviously, I have an advantage,” said Ekström. “But we’re nowhere near anything having been decided yet. I have to drive a good race and am entering the finale just like any other weekend. After all, 56 points are yet to be scored.”
If Rast manages to overcome Ekström he will be the first rookie champion since Nicola Larini, a feat that was achieved 24 years ago.
“I can only win and actually not lose anymore, so I’m not putting any pressure on myself,” says the German. “Who’d have thought before the season that I’d still be battling for the title in the finale? The chance still exists. A perfect weekend with two pole positions and two victories would almost be enough.”
If circumstances had gone his way, Green could have left the previous round at Spielberg on top of the championship but instead finds himself 25 points adrift Ekström.
On the Saturday, the Briton sacrificed race victory so that Ekström could take his first victory of 2017 and on Sunday had been leading into the final laps when puffs of black smoke were seen coming out of his Team Rosberg machine.
“I’m going to drive as fast as possible until I see the checkered flag on Sunday,” said Green.
Despite knowing he is likely to lose his crown, Wittmann is pragmatic about his season.
“For me, an exciting and, on the whole, positive DTM season draws to a close at Hockenheim. We have had some highs and lows over the course of the year, but have fought back well with good performances and results, particularly in the final third of the season. I am obviously looking to continue this trend at the season finale, and to go into the winter break on the back of some strong results. Generally speaking, anything is possible at Hockenheim. I am looking forward to an exciting showdown – particularly for the fans.”
Having won the opening race this season also at the Hockenheimring, Auer will be keen to finish his season on a high and capitalise on any chance – no matter how slim – he has to claim the title.
“I’m really looking forward to the final race and will try to get 100% out of my available package. The race weekend will definitely be one of the highlights on the calendar. There are always a lot of spectators there, and I feel sure that it’s going to be an action-packed occasion, because the championship is going to be decided one way or another.”
After near total Audi domination at the Red Bull Ring, BMW and Mercedes will both be keen to pose a bigger challenge to the Ingolstadt based marque.
Free Practice gets underway at 16.15 on 13th October, with the action fully getting underway at 11.45 on 14th for the first qualifying session of the weekend.