Hockenheim. First, Tim Bendzko performed the official DTM song ’Ich steh nicht mehr still’ (’I am not standing still anymore’), and then, the action started at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg: the first DTM race of the season provided thrilling motorsport action with numerous overtaking manoeuvres, position changes and surprises.
The 22 strong field thrilled the spectators on the grandstands. The buoyant winner after 42 laps and 192.108 kilometres was Brazilian Augusto Farfus with his BMW M3 DTM. The 29-year old showed a clever race, successfully used the technical novelties option tyres and DRS and was the first to take the chequered flag from his fellow BMW driver Dirk Werner and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz).
“That was great fun today. The option tyres and DRS have provided a lot of action. I had a good start and I was very fast. What a start into the season,” said Farfus, who was on the top step of the winners’ podium for the second time in the DTM. The best-placed driver of an Audi RS 5 DTM was Timo Scheider in sixth, who had started from pole position. In total, 87,000 fans attended the first race weekend.
Dirk Werner showed an incredible recovery. From 20th place on the starting grid, the 31-year old from Hanover moved up through the ranks to finish second. “That was an unbelievable race. I didn’t even dare to hope for this. I have overtaken so any cars. I think, not just the fastest driver, but the most clever and the fastest driver now wins races,” said Werner.
Christian Vietoris, who finished thid in the season opener with his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was also delighted after the race and said: “What a great race! I had more fun than ever. Even when one has more to do with the tyre decision and the DRS, this was just great.” Werner and Vietoris both scored their maiden podium finishes in the DTM.
After starting from pole position, two times’ DTM champion Timo Scheider (Audi) missed out on the tactically right moment for a pit stop during a safety car intervention in the first part of the race and thus lost valuable positions. At the end, he still made his way up to finish sixth behind Briton Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz) and reigning DTM champion Bruno Spengler (BMW) from Canada.
“Today, we got it completely wrong. During the safety car phase, we reacted too late. Such a mistake shouldn’t happen when we want to be in contention for the title. But I also know that this decision has to be made in a split second,” Scheider said.
Marco Wittmann (BMW) was the best novice in ninth place. Pascal Wehrlein and Daniel Juncadella (both Mercedes-Benz), who also drove their first DTM race, finished eleventh and twelfth respectively. The fourth DTM rookie, Timo Glock, drove a good race, but had to park his BMW on lap 18 as he lost the right rear wheel after a troublesome pit stop. Other drivers to retire were Mattias Ekström, Edoardo Mortara, Adrien Tambay (all Audi) and Robert Wickens (Mercedes-Benz).
The second race of the season will take place at Brands Hatch (GB), May 19.
Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director: “Incredible - finishing first and second from the back and the front is just great. There were so many overtaking manoeuvres and position changes, that there probably will be no favourite in the next nine races either. The action has definitely been spiced up.”
Toto Wolff, head of motorsport Mercedes-Benz: “It was a difficult race. There is a lot to learn, particularly concerning the tyre strategy. Our young guns have proven themselves. Third and fourth place is a solid result. There were many overtaking manoeuvres. Surely, it is exciting for the fans to watch.”
Dieter Gass, head of DTM Audi: “Of course, we are disappointed. After first and fifth place on the grid, we had hoped for more. On the other hand, we were caught out by the fact that we only had two cars in the top ten, with which we then had problems. Not getting Timo in right away during the safety car phase wasn’t the right decision. All in all, there was plenty of action on the track today.”