The weekend that has just ended was paved with a new DTM round, the double along the Red Bull Ring in Austria. There were two races run in completely different conditions, as the Sunday race was marked by heavy rainfall. The guys in the BMW squad were the great favorites, but the dice were loaded from the start by Audi and Mercedes-AMG.
The Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft ticked a new outing from its cradle, after the Dutch escapde in Zandvoort, also ticking a trip to Spielberg, in Austria, along the superb Red Bull Ring racetrack. In a heaven-like scenery, on a racetrack that has been upgraded without seriously minding costs, the eight BMW automobiles were starting out as favorites. Following a bumpy start, when they were beatable competitors, the Bavarians were coming after an exceptional wake up call in Netherlands, where they held the floor covering the first seven stops in the end, a premiere performance for the DTM. More than that, the eight BMW cars had the benefit of weight, as they were the lightest.
But plans made at home are not always credible and the long race weekend in Spielberg started in Audi’s beat, with Edoardo Mortara as first fiddle. Edo authoritarily mastered all free training sessions, a sign, on one hand, that Audi was going back to the shape from the season start, and on the other hand, that the only Italian in DTM was feeling as right as rain on the racetrack that the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix also takes place on.
There followed a qualifying session for Saturday’s short race, during which it was still Mortara to lead the dance pace. Except for the moment right after the start, when a minor hesitation that brought Jamie Green (starting the race from the second grid spot) took the lead for one and a half laps. Subsquently, Mortara confessed that the bad start was impacted by the broken toe that caused him troble in the very first bends after the start. Green took advantage of it, took the lead and pressed the pedal to the metal, managing to set a big lead in a little more than a lap.
Unfortunately, in the mid-second lap, all of a sudden, Greențs Audi cracked and the gear box failed him. Unable to shift gears when coming out of a bend, Green was an easy target for the sharks racing from behind, therefore the Italian Mortara was fate-bound back from the first spot. And that was where he stayed all the way to the end of the 29 laps run in 40 minutes.
Audi ticked one more victory in 2015, but behind Mortara, in the podium zone, there was a Mercedes-AMG business. The hope Pascal Wehrlein behaved well again and managed to get the second spot, but the importance of it is higher than a humdrum victory. That is because the driver who has not even turned 2 yet, had become, right at the mid-season of 2015, the leader of the DTM drivers’ ranking, a performance which would be more than brilliant, judging by the company Wehrlein is running for.
The podium was rounded up by a driver desperate to (re)confirm his value, Paul di Resta. The 21 champion has not had any remarkable accomplishment since his comeback in DTM two years ago, after the three seasons spent in Formula One, and his kith and kin are saying that Paul is chasing a victory by any means. The podium in Spielberg is the proof that di Resta is wrought-up, but it looks like he’s got a lot of work to do in order to make his way to the top spot.
If Audi won and Mercedes-AMG got two positions on the podium, those granted as favorites before the race, BMW, failed the expectations. The only one who roared like a caged lion up front was Augusto Farfus, the good-humoured veteran home-grown in the BMW Team RBM. The Brasilian was so very close to finishing in the fifth, an achievement that would have anyhow been too dim for BMW, but the one that we have so many times called old fox, Mattias Ekstrom (Audi), lurched in the sixth position, and right before the final lap, four bends before the checkered flag, the Swedish put his teeth into it and cut Farfus out by a beautiful taking over manoeuver. An extra smile for Audi, an extra tear for BMW…
Rain Man of Sweden
The qualifying session for Sunday’s long race were in Mattias Ekstrom’s command, strongly driven by his rousing finish in Saturday’s race. Even more than that, even though Pascal Wehrlein had become the DTM leader, following his delightful march less than 24 hours before, the score play might propel the Swede Mattias all the way to the position recently achieved by Wehrlein. Mike Rockenfeller came in second and Gary Paffett came third. We must mention that it was the first pole-position for Mattias, after an approximately 3-year time with no such achievement, while BMW was also falling short on the racetrack that should have perfectly fitted them, placing their car in the 14th position…
Sunday’s race conditions were totally opposed to those on Saturday. An annoyingly persistent rain kept the entire competition company. In a way, we might say that the malevolant weather shook the young a little bit, as the sharpest and powerful drivers, as you will see for yourself, were the „old storm-beaten” ones. Mattias Ekstrom congently led the battle of the Austrian circuit, but Gary Paffet was the man of merit, as the Mercedes-AMG driver permanently kept close to Audi’s veteran.
It was a flying start, after a several laps run behind the safety car. After the drawn back, the raid began, but it was the moment the errors saraband also started. The mistakes, big or small, can be put on the account of lack of experience, because only the youngsters wrongly operated on the weather condtions. Ekstrom started well and so did Moke Rockenfeller, it was just that Gary Paffett was more precise and sharper than the latter, therefore, his coming in the second spot in the race rank was only a matter of minutes.
Pascal Wehrlein was beyond recognision, after two unprompted outings, incidents that seemed to just envision the hotttest moment of Sunday’s race. Towards the end of the 60 minutes, Wehrlein (Mercedes-AMG) did a master drill and simultaneously passed by Timo Scheider (Audi) and Robert Wickens (Mercedes-AMG). Two turns away, while things seemed to settle down, Scheider braked pretty late, barely touching Wickens, but the all-flooded racetrack made – just like in an absurdly precise pool shot – the Canadian to bounce into Wehrlein and both of them come out of the racetrack in the garvel area, where they remained prisoners, bound to retire.
For Wehrlein is was even more anguishing as, not even 24 hours had passed since he had become the DTM 2015 ranking leader, and now he saw his achievement simply erased, just as Mattias Ekstrom, despite the pressure coming from Gary Paffett, he was storming towards the finish line. And the Swede won, while it was still raining, for the second time in 2015. And once with giving away the trophy in Spielberg, we have a new leader of the season, now that it is half-way to the end.
Mercedes-AMG brought a man up into the second position, the proficient Gary Paffett, after a clean performance. Edo Mortara came in the third position, which topped a perfect weekend, with two podium positions for Audi (the other one was in the highest spot). Best ranked driver for BMW was Antonio Felix da Costa, the 11th position. Still, after Timo Scheider was ruled out, a penalty given after the race finish for the maneouvre by which he got rid of Wehrlein şi de Wickens, da Costa got one spot higher up, scoring consolation points for BMW, a constructor that ticked a brand-new nightmarish weekend…
DTM 2015 Overall Ranking
1. Mattias Ekstrom (Audi RS5 DTM) – Audi Sport Team Abt Sportline: 111 points
2. Edoardo Mortara (Audi RS5 DTM) – Audi Sport Team Abt Sportline: 98 points
3. Pascal Wehrlein (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM) – gooix/Original-Teile Mercedes-AMG: 94 points
4. Jamie Green (Audi RS5 DTM) – Audi Sport Team Rosberg: 81 points
5. Gary Paffett (Mercedes-AMG C 63 AMG) – EURONICS/BWT Mercedes-AMG: 61 points
6. Robert Wickens (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM) – SILBERPFEIL Energy Mercedes-AMG: 57 points
7. Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-AMG C 63 AMG) – gooix/Original-Teile Mercedes-AMG: 56 points
8. Bruno Spengler (BMW M4 DTM) – BMW Team MTEK: 52 points
9. Marco Wittmann (BMW M4 DTM) – BMW Team RMG: 51 points
10. Antonia Felix da Costa (BMW M4 DTM) – BMW Team Schnitzer: 44 points