Round 13 in this year’s DTM Championship was run under a great influence from the weather, as you often see at the Nürburgring.
Following a qualifying on a drying track, Lucas Auer was on Pole Position ahead of Marco Wittmann, Robert Wickens and Augusto Farfus. Rene Rast was the best Audi in P7, on a race day where Audi was 25 kilos heavier than the others due to success ballast in the cars.
Heavy rain fell over the track, shortly before race start, resulting in Race Control giving the drivers two formation laps, before they would have a normal standing start.
Augusto Farfus made a super start, and was first into turn one ahead of Lucas Auer and Paul Di Resta. Tom Blomqvist was slow going out of turn one, but eventually picked up speed again, after falling to last. Other than mild rubbing down the field, there wasn’t any big dramas.
Rene Rast had a small off track moment, but only lost a position to Mattias Ekström, resulting him in dropping to P8. A few laps later, Rast lost another position to Maxime Martin.
The rain stopped 10 minutes into the race, and quickly thereafter we saw a dry line appearing. There was still a lot of moisture, so none of the teams were thinking about going on slicks yet.
With 33 minutes left of the race, we saw Rene Rast and Maro Engel getting into contact with each other, when the latter tried to overtake Rast. Rast slid wide and the two cars touched. That resulted in Gary Paffett going past the two, before Engel made it past Rast later on the same lap. Rene Rast got a warning for that, which means he will drop five places on the grid tomorrow, since the DTM rules start that you will have a grid penalty if you get three warnings during the year.
Mattias Ekström was able to overtake Timo Glock, since the Swede had more traction than the German. The two were battling all the way down the start-finish straight, before Ekström could grab the position.
One lap later, Glock was spun around by Gary Paffett, when the Brit outbraked himself slightly.
Mike Rockenfeller, Nico Müller and Tom Blomqvist were the first to go on slicks, before Maxime Martin, Gary Paffett, Bruno Spengler and Loic Duval followed a bit later.
The rain started falling again, but Mattias Ekström still got slicks by the team. The Swede really had to fight with the car on the very damp track. But the same happened with Augusto Farfus, and when he was back on track, he was quickly caught and passed by Gary Paffett, since the Brit had much more heat in his tires.
Maxime Martin had a trip to the grass, when he couldn’t stop his BMW M4 DTM on slicks on the wet track. After reversing out of the barrier, he was back on the circuit again.
Augusto Farfus decided to go back to the pits for wets, since the track was far too wet for the dry weather tires.
Meanwhile, Lucas Auer, Paul Di Resta, Robert Wickens, Maro Engel and Rene Rast stayed on track with their tires from the start of the race, and was leading the race. Rast pitted with 15 minutes left of the race, and got new rain tires, and was the leading guy of the ones that had already done their mandatory pitstop.
Marco Wittmann was the next to return to rain tires – just as the sun started shining above the track again.
With 12 minutes left of the race, both Lucas Auer and Robert Wickens dived to the pits for new rain tires for their Mercedes cars. Rene Rast was running a second faster than anybody else on the track, but with 16 seconds up to Auer after the pitstop, it was a tough task to get to the front.
Edoardo Mortara was pushed around by Maxime Martin, which cost a drive through for the latter.
Paul Di Resta made it back out on the track in the lead after his pit stop, and shortly after Lucas Auer had a small off-track moment by his own, and lost a few seconds. Auer lost further time by being stuck by his teammate Mortara, who was blocking his way forward for a few laps, before Auer eventually made it past. By then , Paul Di Resta had already made a big gab.
Edoardo Mortara and Jamie Green were the final two drivers to dive for the pits, but fell all the way back to 6th and 7th in the field.
On the penultimate lap, Paul Di Resta pulled to the side and let Lucas Auer take the lead. That was much better for Mercedes in the Championship, with Auer being much higher up than Di Resta.
The race ended in a total Mercedes triumph with Lucas Auer ahead of Paul Di Resta and Robert Wickens. Mercedes driver Maro Engel even finished ahead of the best Audi driver, Rene Rast, who finished P5. We had to look all the way back to P8 to find the first BMW, with the unlucky Augusto Farfus. A certain victory was lost due to a wrong tire choice, just as the rain returned.
Mattias Ekström finished in 15th and far way from the points.
That results in the Championship being much closer at the top, with Mattias Ekström still in the lead, but only one point ahead of Lucas Auer and Rene Rast a further three points behind. Mike Rockenfeller, Jamie Green, Timo Glock and Maxime Martin are all within 8 points of each other in the battle for fourth – but still with possibilities of winning the Championship, since there is only 18 points from Rockenfeller to leader Ekström.
We will have the second race of the weekend tomorrow, Sunday.