The 2018 DTM Series got underway at Hockenheim with Gary Paffett emerging victorious on Saturday and Timo Glock on Sunday.
Audi had a slow start to the weekend but managed to change their fortunes around on Sunday to secure second place with Mike Rockenfeller.
Mattias Ekström said his farewell to the DTM to focus on his FIA World Rallycross Championship commitments with his EKS RX team.
Curious Case of the Audi Pace
Turning up at Hockenheim the teams knew they were stepping into the unknown with the new aerodynamic regulations that were introduced for this season.
In Friday practice, Audi started strongly with five of their six drivers featuring in the top ten but on Saturday this pace had all but vanished.
Reigning champion René Rast was the best placed for the team in ninth for the team in qualifying and the race.
However, on Sunday the team miraculously recovered with Rast qualifying in second place on the grid and Rockenfeller coming through to take second in the race from Paffett late on.
Despite the changes the team made overnight they could not explain the drastic improvement between the two races.
The team blamed oversteer and the new simplified aero package, which they believed would impact their title defence more than the other manufacturers due to the aerodynamics being the strongest part of its title winning package last season.
Glock vs Paffett
The action that had everyone on the edges of their seats.
Glock and Paffett showed the fans what racing is about, exchanging the lead of the race no less than eight times as they went wheel-to-wheel out front.
The pair gave each other as little room as allowed and put on a show the fans deserved.
Having led the early stages of the race Glock had more DRS allowance remaining and used it to his advantage to challenge Paffett as they switched places.
When the Mercedes driver ran out of DRS usage, Glock was able to secure his position in the lead as Paffett had to watch his mirrors as the chasing pack had caught up with the battling duo.
Glock and Paffett clearly enjoyed their fight as they celebrated in parc fermé after the race and sang each other’s praises.
A legend in the DTM, Mattias Ekström is loved by all.
It is that reason Audi agreed to letting the Swede have one more weekend in the DTM before his farewell was made official.
Fans flocked to be there for his farewell and get their opportunity to say goodbye to the two-time champion who wanted to say goodbye in the best way possible with action off track planned for his fans.
However, on track the results did not go Ekström’s way due to Audi’s struggles but that did not matter.
Ekström has not rejected the idea of returning to the DTM one day in the future so it may be sooner rather than later we see him back behind the wheel in the series.
Glock’s Plea to Mercedes
As Glock crossed the line as victor, he made it abundantly clear his thoughts on the thrilling battle he endured with Paffett.
The BMW driver shared an expletive ridden message to let Mercedes know he thinks they are making a mistake in leaving the series at the end of the season.
Glock, admitted to planning his message when he knew he was safe out front.
It got the reaction he desired, with fans agreeing with the sentiments.
Whether Mercedes will change their minds because of Glock is doubtful but it is nice to think that they might have an influence.
Best DTM Race Ever?
Some have gone as far as to say Race 2 was the best DTM ever.
Whether this is the reality is the question but it is certainly up there.
The action out front will be talked about for years to come and does raise the question; why are Mercedes leaving?
If you missed the race you can watch it, and Race 1, in their entirety on YouTube – you will not regret it.
The next race of the 2018 DTM season takes place at the Lausitzring on 18-20 May, and if Hockenheim is anything to go on fans are in for an exciting year.
Glock heads the championship ahead of Paffett. Rockenfeller is third, with Lucas Auer fourth with DTM-returnee Pascal Wehrlein fifth.