The 2018 DTM Series has officially begun with Gary Paffett claiming the first victory of the year at Hockenheim.
It was the perfect start to Mercedes‘ thirtieth anniversary in the DTM, which is also their farewell from the series.
Paffett got the perfect start from pole position to take victory from Lucas Auer and BMW‘s Timo Glock.
The Brit had a long time to wait for his twenty-first victory in the DTM, no less than 1,784 days when he claimed victory on 13 June 2013 at the Lausitzring.
It was Auer who was the strongest in the opening stages, passing Glock, Marco Wittmann and Paffett to claim the early lead.
However, when it was the Austrian’s time to come in for his mandatory pitstop an issue cost him the chance to hold on to the position when Paffett on warmer tyres sailed past him.
Auer soon found himself under pressure from Glock in third who made one half-hearted attempt into the the hairpin before fading away to take a lonely third.
Edoardo Mortara had a late surge through the field to rise to fourth having been in the lower part of the top ten for much of the race.
He benefitted from rivals making mistakes, notably Mike Rockenfeller who ran wide at the Sachs Curve and allowed a succession of cars through before the latter went on to finish in fourteenth.
Second placed man on the grid Wittmann suffered a similar decline to Rockenfeller which took him out of a strong points finish to eleventh
DTM-returnee Pascal Wehrlein came home in fifth place to make it five Mercedes’ in the top five positions.
Bruno Spengler was the next best BMW in sixth place ahead of Mercedes duo Paul di Resta and Dani Juncadella.
Reigning champion René Rast was the best of the Audi‘s in ninth place after a hard fought battle between himself and the Mercedes duo di Resta and Juncadella.
It was a chaotic race for Rast who went long into his opening stint which involved him having to concede a position to Rockenfeller for an illegal move on his countryman.
He also went airborne after hitting the Turn 14/15 kerb which dropped him out of the points for a time being.
The action was not confined to the track as Rast and Juncadella came in for their stops on the same lap and left the pitlane side-by-side.
Juncadella ultimately got the last laugh, as he took eighth and Rast got a warning for accelerating in the ‘working lane’ as he left the pits.
This also meant all Mercedes’ finished in the the top ten positions.
The final points paying position belonged to Loïc Duval.
Wittmann was eleventh ahead of rookie team-mate Joel Eriksson, with the latter coming close to getting a point on his debut but lost out late on to Duval and Wittmann.
Fellow BMWs Augusto Farfus and Philipp Eng ended in fifteenth and sixteenth place.
It was a difficult day for Audi with Nico Müller, ending in thirteenth ahead of Rockenfeller.
Mattias Ekström in his farewell weekend from the DTM finished in seventeenth ahead of rookie Robin Frijns – the man that has replaced him – and Jamie Green who came home in last place.
The third practice session of the weekend will start at 9.00 local time, ahead of the second qualifying session at 11.25 with the race start at 13.30.
2018 DTM Series Results – Hockenheim I Race 1
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