BMW driver Marco Wittmann admits newly-crowned DTM champion Rene Rast was the "rightful" winner of this year's title.
Rast sealed the title in last weekend's Hockenheim finale, beating fellow Audi drivers Mattias Ekstrom, Jamie Green and Mike Rockenfeller.
The 30-year-old German won the series in his first full season, with only three races of prior experience last year, making him the first rookie to win the DTM since it was relaunched in 2000.
Outgoing champion Wittmann praised Rast, calling him the "completely deserved" champion.
"Hats off to Rene, you have to congratulate him, his title is completely deserved," said the BMW driver. "He always delivered in qualifying and this is an important aspect of the DTM.
"For me, he is not a rookie, because he is not the youngest anymore, but he has done a very good job in his first year in DTM.
"He rightfully won the title, without big support from others, as we might have seen from some of his teammates."
Wittmann's BMW boss Jens Marquardt was also "honestly happy" for Rast despite seeing rival marque Audi take this year's spoils.
"As a rookie in a racing series where really good drivers are racing, winning in the first year is a really good performance," said Marquardt.
"He really deserved it - I think he approached the DTM with the right mentality, with a little humility. This is how champions are made. I'm honestly happy for him."
Rast's Audi stablemate Rockenfeller added: "He is a rookie, but a very old rookie, and an old-timer. He won in everything he raced in, and also impressed during his debut here last year.
"We all know how difficult it is to defend the title. Rene is now the benchmark and we will try to beat him."
Additional reporting by Rebecca Friese