It may sound tough, but honestly, this is the reality. The last round of the 2014 DTM season had as main stake the fight between Audi and BMW for constructors’ title. And also for the unofficial DTM vice champion title. Mercedes-Benz show was less satisfying, in line with the rest of the season, that came to an end.
Two of the three titles at stake in DTM have learnt its winners even before the traditional final season round – the great Hockenheimring finale (DTM Finale). Undoubtedly, 2014 was the year of the young Marco Wittmann, who has assessed easily its place in the championship, after only eight rounds, totalling four victories and accumulating enough points to become a successor for Mike Rockenfeller, the 2013 DTM champion; Wittmann contributed to teams’ title, won by BMW Team RMG in the penultimate 2014 round. Even with this available scenario, the race was equally exciting even before Hockenheim and this because the constructors’ title was still unsure. With Mercedes-Benz as luxury spectators, the fight was between Audi and BMW, with an advantage of 41 points for the Bavarians (382 compared to 341, from the Inglostadt brand).
All the lights were on Marco Wittmann, even before the Hockenheim round, as he was seen as the main BMW weapon, holders of the last two constructors’ titles (in fact, BMW has dominated this category since its return in DTM in 2012). Only that „the count” for the qualifying session for the starting grid from Saturday has totally messed things up. Wittmann totally missed as he seemed less motivated and he ended, surprisingly, on the 13th position. On the other hand, the Audi „armada” took seriously the constructors’ title challenge and they practically invaded the grid through Miguel Molina (pole position), Mattias Ekstrom (2nd place) and Edoardo Mortara (3rd place). Augusto Farfus saved the BMW pride, even from the 4th position, while Pascal Wehrlein, even though it is hardly surprising, was the fastest Mercedes-Benz driver (6th place). Audi as the winning team, finished the Q3 (the third qualifying round) with six cars on the first 8 positions, with Jamie Green (5th place), Mike Rockenfeller (7th place) and Timo Scheider (8th place) completing the top.
The Sunday race was marked by the tires strategy, a gag that won’t be possible anymore in 2015, because the official announcement stated that it will be receded from using the optional tire, used in the last seasons. Mattias Ekstrom was the most inspired as he raced with the regular, stiffer rubber, which has covered half of the scheduled laps with the said composition.
Even though he climbed quickly on the top just after the start, the Swedish didn’t last there for too long as Jamie Green took the lead. The British led the race close to the end, even after entering the pit lane. However, the fact that Ekstrom chose the optional, more efficient rubber, given the Hokenheim weather conditions, made the difference, and thus Mattias managed to catch up delightfully.
Two were the tense moments. The first one was when Pascal Wehrlein entered the pit lane, the best Mercedes-Benz driver at the moment, who, sadly, was the victim of his careless mechanics so he became the main character in an “unsafe release” (inattentively leaving the pit lane). The consequence was a penalty with an additional passing on the pit lane, whereupon Wehrlein lost any chance for a better classification for the Stuttgart-based brand. The Mercedes-Benz pride was defended by Paul di Resta who raced beautifully with Marco Wittmann for the 4th place and he finally won. It was a minimum comfort for the constructor that has not won any championship title in 2014, even though it won three season wins.
A second tense moment was the intervention of the Safety Car with only four laps before the final, after Daniel Juncadella crashed. Even though the Safety car has only circulated for two laps, it grouped the drivers and after its intervention, the fight begun. Ekstrom forced and managed to take the lead, a first position that he kept until the very end. Mike Rockenfeller ended on the second position and the podium was completed by the unlucky Jamie Green, who hoped at a victory until the Safety car left the racing track. As I said before, the first DTM Mercedes-Benz AMG C-Coupe (Di Resta) ended on the fourth position, while the first BMW managed only a fifth place, thanks to the ubiquitous Wittmann.
The Audi crown of the podium has considerably simplified the equation for constructors’ title, as BMW had an average evolution at Hockenheim (Wittmann on 5th and Martin Tomczyk on 7th). Basically, a castling happened between Audi and BMW regarding drivers’ and constructors’ title, Wittmann assuming Mike Rockenfeller’s crown. For Mercedes-Benz another weird season has ended, a year when they were in advantage, questioned by many, through supplementing the time allocated for interventions on the material for competition. Even though, the cumulative results were delayed, the only real gain was Pascal Wehrlein, the youngest race-winner from DTM history, a talented driver that has already announced his claims at the champion title in the near future; If he won’t take the leave, attracted by the Formula 1 mirage, since he has carried out a few tests with the sister team of F1.
Toto Wolf (Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief) has perfectly concluded the evolution of the brand in 2014: at Hockenheim. “Today, Audi has shown a top team result, we didn’t have a chance against them. We could have avoided the penalty for Pascal Wehrlein. This mistake happened to us in the heat of the moment. Even though we weren’t able to win a title this year, we still were able to give a hint of our potential in 2014. With our three victories, we don’t have to be ashamed.”