Jamie Green won an incident-packed opening round of the DTM at Hockenheim in Germany, surviving two safety car phases in the new 40-minute sprint race.
This was the first DTM Saturday race since 2002, as a new 40-minute format has been introduced this season. It provoked a wild race during which one third of the field failed to finish due to crashes and collisions.
Starting from pole position, Audi Team Rosberg ace Green made a perfect launch to lead the Mercedes of Pascal Wehrlein by 2.5s on the opening lap.
Audi’s Nico Muller, who carried an immense amount of speed through Turn 1, was forced wide at Turn 2 in the battle for second and slipped back to sixth, as Edoardo Mortara (Audi) lost a place to Paul di Resta’s Mercedes in the scramble.
Mortara then ran wide at the Spitzkehre hairpin, and just rejoined ahead of Mike Rockenfeller’s Audi in fourth.
Green romped away at the front of the field, while di Resta passed Wehrlein for second on lap four. Wehrlein slipped back from the Scot’s pace, but was able to keep the Audis of Mortara and Muller at bay.
Behind them, Mattias Ekstrom – who made a strong start from 10th – pulled a fine move at the hairpin on Marco Wittmann to grab eighth on lap six.
Green had a 3.5s lead when Daniel Juncadella ploughed off into the gravel halfway through the race in his Mercedes, bringing out the safety car for a lap.
Green made a good restart to make a clear break from di Resta. Ekstrom passed Adrien Tambay for seventh with contact in the Mercedes Arena, but a puncture forced Ekstrom to pit (after which he'd charge back to 12th) as Tambay found himself fired off at the following corner by Maxime Martin.
More contact soon occurred at the Spitzkehre as Martin Tomczyk lost control and spun into Gary Paffett, which also caused Lucas Auer to grind to a halt. “He was out of control – an incredibly stupid thing to do,” said Paffett of Tomczyk, who argued his rear brakes locked.
This brought out a second safety car, after which Green made another great restart, to lead di Resta, Wehrlein, Mortara, Rockenfeller and Muller.
Wehrlein repassed di Resta, who was struggling with his balance, for second in the closing stages under braking for the Spitzkehre hairpin.
Martin made great progress to lead the BMW charge up to seventh, ahead of Timo Glock, Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler. Antonio Felix da Costa was punted into a spin at the Sud Kurve on the opening lap, but recovered to finish 13th.
Both Farfus and Paffett had been slung to the back of the grid, Farfus for not having enough fuel in his car for post-qualifying scrutineering and Paffett for a parc ferme infringement when a sensor was removed.
Timo Scheider was an early retirement due to damage incurred at the second corner, and injured his arm when the steering kicked-back in his hands. “One of the guys attacked my front axle, so the steering hit my hand,” he explained.
Robert Wickens also went out early with suspension damage, and Miguel Molina was spun by Maxi Gotz as he trundled back to the pits.
Tom Blomqvist was the best-placed BMW on the grid, but made a poor start which led to contact at Turn 2 which led to his retirement a couple of laps in.
|3||Paul Di Resta||Mercedes||42m50.354||3.221s|
|13||Antonio Felix da Costa||BMW||43m05.366||18.233s|
|R||Lucas Auer||Mercedes||16 laps|
|R||Gary Paffett||Mercedes||15 laps|
|R||Martin Tomczyk||BMW||15 laps|
|R||Daniel Juncadella||Mercedes||10 laps|
|R||Miguel Molina||Audi||9 laps|
|R||Tom Blomqvist||BMW||6 laps|
|R||Timo Scheider||Audi||1 lap|
|R||Robert Wickens||Mercedes||1 lap