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DTM champion Wittmann to test for Toro Rosso, as Sainz wins Formula Renault 3.5 title

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DTM champion Wittmann to test for Toro Rosso, as Sainz wins Formula Renault 3.5 title
Oct 20, 2014, 12:24 PM

Toro Rosso are set to test new DTM champion Marco Wittmann as a reward for clinching the touring car crown with BMW.

Toro Rosso are set to test new DTM champion Marco Wittmann as a reward for clinching the touring car crown with BMW.

The 24-year-old German’s F1 outing was announced by BMW motorsport chief Jens Marquardt following the DTM season finale at Hockenheim on Sunday.

“Marco has an extraordinary season behind him, in which he has given BMW Motorsport an awful lot of pleasure,” said Marquadt. “It is now our turn to reward him for his efforts. For this reason, BMW M GmbH has come up with something very special. I am delighted that we can also make his childhood dream come true with the Formula One test.

“Thanks to the relationship we enjoy with our premium partner Red Bull, it was possible for us to organise a test drive in the Toro Rosso.”

However, Wittmann’s test is not likely to prove a threat to the aspirations of any of the other drivers bucking for a berth alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso next season, as the news of Witmann’s outing with STR came alongside the announcement that the German has resigned with BMW to defend his DTM title in 2015.

Wittmann’s march to the 2014 DTM title saw him win four times on his way to a points total of 156, 50 points clear of two-time series champion Matthias Ekstrom. The 24-year-old switched to DTM last year after racing in a number of single seater categories. In 2011, he finished second to Caterham tester Roberto Merhi in the F3 Euro Series.

“I’m overwhelmed. The whole season was amazing; now standing as a DTM champion [with] the contract extension and a Formula One test – this is a dream for me,” said Wittmann of the test opportunity.

Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz, one of the men aiming to claim the race seat alongside Max Verstappen for 2015, fulfilled his part of his junior team bargain with Red Bull by last weekend claiming the Formula Renault 3.5 series title.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 12.20.47

The 20-year-old Spaniard took the title in style, too, with his seven wins making him the series’ youngest ever champion, 24 years to the day after his father claimed his first crown in the WRC

“Thanks to the entire team for what we’ve achieved,” he said. “If someone told me last December that I would experience a year so rich in victories and excellent moments, I wouldn’t have believed it! Looking back, we have gotten some great results. Things became a bit complicated during the summer, but I scored the two most important wins of my career in France.

“The coincidence with my father’s title makes this moment even more special,” he added. “I hope now to get some news, good or bad, about my future, but I can’t wait to find out.”

Fellow Red Bull Junior Team driver Pierre Gasly finished in sixth and fourth places in the final-round races in Jerez to claim the championship runner-up spot, beating Merhi, who championship chances were ruined by a non-finish in race one. The Caterham tester also failed to finish the second race, thus handing second place in the overall standings to Gasly.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 12.22.05

While 18-year-old Gasly is something of a long shot for the Toro drive, with the Frenchman likely to race another season in Formula Renault 3.5, a greater threat to Sainz’s claim on an F1 seat comes in the shape of Red Bull Junior Team rival Alex Lynn, who is set to wrap up the GP3 title in Abu Dhabi next month.

The 21-year-old Briton could have taken the championship crown in Sochi but a race two fightback by rival Dean Stoneman means the title fight will go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. However, with Stoneman needing to take maximum points from the round and also needing Lynn not to score points, Lynn is odds to take the title.

Jean-Eric Vergne, of course, remains in the frame to retain his seat, with Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz recently telling Speed Week that “there is quite an argument to have an experienced pilot next to a very young driver”.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 12.23.23

As for Verstappen, the Dutchman last weekend ended his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign in third place overall, behind already-crowned champion Esteban Ocon and Tom Blomqvist, son of rally legend Stig.

Vertsappen won the opening race of the final weekend in Hockenheim, but could only manage fifth and sixth in the following races, whereas Blomqvist enjoyed a solid weekend, finishing on the podium in all three races.

“It’s been an incredible season,” Verstappen said of a debut season in which he took 10 victories, more than any other driver. “If anyone had told me I would finish third in the standings with the most victories, I would’ve settled for that.”

 
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