Pascal Wehrlein scored Mercedes’s first DTM victory of 2015 with a dominant display by the Three-Pointed Star at the Norisring.
In a wet/dry race, Wehrlein gambled by starting the race on slicks unlike the rest of the leading runners. Although he slithered backwards in the early stages, as those ahead of him pitted as the track dried completely, he inherited the lead.
After that, Wehrlein drove a defensive masterclass in the closing stages for his second career win.
The race started wet, as a brief rain shower soaked the track, with poleman Christian Vietoris starting on wets along with Gary Paffett, while Audi’s points leader Jamie Green gambled on slicks along with Wehrlein.
Paffett made the best start, but Vietoris grabbed back the lead around the outside of Turn 1. But a pile-up at the exit of Turn 1 brought out the safety car, as Nico Muller and Lucas Auer clashed.
At the restart, it was a Mercedes top four with Vietoris leading Paffett, Robert Wickens and Paul di Resta. Martin Tomczyk was the leading BMW, ahead of Dani Juncadella’s Mercedes.
Green had dropped to 12th behind Mike Rockenfeller – who started 22nd. Rockenfeller tore into the top seven to be top Audi at the time.
Wickens outbraked Paffett for second on lap 11, as a dry line began to emerge.
Paffett was the first frontrunner to pit for slicks on lap 15, with Vietoris stopping a lap later with Wickens – who was setting some rapid laptimes – right behind him.
Vietoris retained the lead of the wet-shod starters, ahead of Wickens and Paffett. Di Resta and Tomczyk pitted an extra lap later, di Resta rejoining just ahead of Green. They clashed at the Schoeller Esses, having collided here last year also on the warm-up lap!
Di Resta, who banged wheels with Bruno Spengler’s BMW just before the hit from Green, was spun around and forced out with suspension damage.
With Wehrlein inheriting the lead on his older slick tyres, the pursuing Vietoris, Wickens and Paffett were nose-to-tail at half distance, with Augusto Farfus’s BMW also in close attendance.
Wickens passed Vietoris on the exit of Turn 1, without much of a fight being put up, and Vietoris was then advised “your teammate is faster” as Paffett caught him too.
Paffett was also allowed through, and then quickly closed down Wickens for second.
After a near-miss at Turn 1 on lap 26, Wickens raised his pace and began to close on Wehrlein – who was on older tyres.
In the closing stages, Wehrlein had Wickens, Paffett and Vietoris right on his tail, but the advantage their fresher rubber gave seemed to fade away.
Spengler passed Farfus for fifth and first non-Mercedes status, and although he caught the Mercs late on, he was never a threat.
‘Mr Norisring’ Green worked his way up to sixth, having escaped censure for the di Resta collision, but his strategy of starting on slicks cost him dearly.
Martin Tomczyk's BMW passed him to claim a top-six finish right near the end.
|12||Antonio Felix da Costa||BMW||41m15.488||13.318|