The DTM season got off to its start at the Hockenheim, where the first round was held.
Gary Paffett had grabbed the first Pole Position of the year ahead of Marco Wittmann, Timo Glock and Lucas Auer. So it was Mercedes-AMG ahead of BMW, BMW, and Mercedes.
The qualifying had been a huge disappointment for the defending Champions, Audi Sport, who had last year’s DTM Champion Rene Rast as the best driver – in P9.
Mattias Ekström had announced his retirement from the DTM, but Audi Sport chose to give him a farewell weekend. He was handed an Audi RS5 DTM to race with a very special livery, and qualified P18.
Philipp Eng had a really bad start, and and the restart the car. Things were going smoothly at the front, until Lucas Auer overtook Timo Glock in the fight for third.
Auer made it into second only one lap later, and could then be rear gunner for Paffett. But Auer opted to go for it, and overtook Paffett shortly after. At the same time, Timo Glock went past his teammate, Marco Wittmann.
Jamie Green was the first man to pit, and gambled a bit on his tire strategy compared to the others. Like in previous years, there is a mandatory pitstop during the 55 minutes + one lap of racing.
Rene Rast was ordered to switch positions with Mike Rockenfeller, since Rast had overtaken Rocky outside the track limits on Lap 1. Rast got further problems in the following lap, when he tried to overtake Rocky, but instead ended up losing out to Paul di Resta.
And then we entered a more monotone part of the race, where we had to look outside top 10 for any kind of position switches.
Marco Wittmann and Augusto Farfus both had problems at their pitstops, where it took way too long. It appeared that BMW Team RMG had some troubles with their pit equipment, since the stop of Glock also took a bit extra of time.
Paffett pitted one lap prior to Auer and that resulted in Paffett having a bit more heat in the tires, so he could overtake Auer in the hairpin.
Marco Wittmann and Mike Rockenfeller started fighting over 5th position, while Pascal Wehrlein took the opportunity and dived past Rocky at the Mercedes Grandstand.
While top 3 had jump away, the 4th to 10th places were all in one long row, being able to use DRS on each other. The rules state that you have 12 laps of usage for the whole race, so the drivers had to be clever and not use it all at once.
Rocky mad a small driving error ahead of the Mercedes Grandstand, losing out to Edoardo Mortara and Bruno Spengler. Only a few laps later, we had Rockenfeller all the way back in 10th, since his Audi was no match for the Mercedes and BMW train.
Edoardo Mortara made it past teammate Pascal Wehrlein with 5 minutes left of the race, thanks to the DRS slipstream.
But nobody could touch Gary Paffett out front, who took a convincing victory over Lucas Auer and Timo Glock. You had to look all the way down to P9 to find the first Audi Sport driver, which was Rene Rast. He had plenty of DRS laps left, so he won quite a few positions in the latter part of the race.
Mattias Ekström finished the race in 17th, and was never a threat for the competition in today’s race.
The second race of the weekend will be run tomorrow, Sunday.