Pascal Wehrlein wins, Marco Wittmann is the 2014 champion
Mercedes’ Pascal Wehrlein achieved a lights-to-flag first victory in the DTM at the Lausitzring, becoming the youngest ever driver in the history of the championship to visit the top spot of the podium, but the star of the day was BMW’s Marco Wittmann who, finishing sixth, became the 2014 DTM champion, also the youngest ever driver to do so.
Intermittent rain fell over Lausitzring all morning so all drivers started the race with wet tyres, with the only exception of Edoardo Mortara who, from 13th on the grid, took a gamble and mounted options.
At the start, Wehrlain transformed his pole into a lead, with Dani Jundadella taking second position from Jamie Green and Timo Scheider. However, the Mercedes drivers had an advantage on track today, with Christian Vietoris moving forward to take second place on the second lap of the race.
Bruno Spengler had to serve a very early drive-through penalty for pushing another car on the opening lap, thus ruining his chances of recovery.
Timo Scheider (Audi Team Phoenix) led the pack chasing the Mercedes leading trio, as Jamie Green spun off the track and lost several places. The Briton was still very quick on the wet track, and recovered ground quickly.
Mike Rockenfeller was fast, but in the middle of the pack, the reigning champion had a scrap with Timo Glock for seventh place that ended when Rocky got alongside the BMW Team MTEK driver and pushed him off the track.
With Wehrlein having built an 11-second gap over Vietoris, Mercedes lost the third spot on the podium when Dani Juncadella was handed a drive-through penalty as the stewards considered he hadn’t respected the yellow flags on the track. The Team Mücke Spaniard returned to the race in fourth position, with Timo Scheider being third.
The scraps and fights continued in the middle of the pack, with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Martin Tomczyk, Augusto Farfus and Joey Hand gaining places, and getting into points’ positions half way through the race.
Edo Mortara’s (Audi Sport Team Abt) gamble cost him dearly, as the track didn’t dry as fast as he had expected, plummeting him down in the classification. The Swiss driver was last but one, and could only trail behind the pack.
Lap 26 saw the start of the pit lane dance, as the majority of drivers started to change to the option tyres. Augusto Farfus, who had recovered to eighth position, was the first to come in. Mattias Ekström followed suit, but in the hope of jumping Farfus, the Audi Team Abt mechanics released him too early, with his left front tyre not properly fixed. The Swede had to retire a couple of corners later as the wheel came off.
Jamie Green’s race went from bad to worse, as he spun off a second time and was served a drive-through for pushing Martin Tomczyk. Later, Gary Paffett would try to overtake Green on the outside, hitting Adrien Tambay in the process. With just four laps to go, the Briton from Team Rosberg had to retire with damage in his car when he was eleventh.
On lap 35 race control enabled the DRS, and Daniel Juncadella closed the gap to Timo Scheider. However, the German improved his lap times, building a gap over the Spaniard and closed up to second placed Christian Vietoris.
Meanwhile, Marco Wittmann was on his own on the track in sixth position, with all his mathematically in contention for the championship rivals behind him.
In the closing stages, Farfus and Rockenfeller fought for seventh position, with the Brazilian from Team RBM having the upper hand. Rockenfeller made a couple of mistakes and was overtaken by Molina and Tomczyk, who went on to finish in eighth.
Timo Scheider managed to catch Christian Vietoris, but made a mistake with two laps to go, having to concede second position and managing his car to come home in third.
At the chequered flag, Pascal Wehrlein took his first victory with a 15 second lead over Christian Vietoris, with Scheider in third position.
Daniel Juncadella was fourth, followed by Robert Wickens, who made a good recovery from 12th on the grid.
Marco Wittmann was sixth, increasing the gap over his rivals and finishing the race with a 69 point lead over Vietoris, who is now second in the standings, thus becoming the 2014 champion with two races remaining. The 24-year-old couldn’t contain his emotion in the victory lane, saying: “It’s an amazing feeling, it was a difficult race, I tried to stay out of contact with everybody, and I finally did it.”
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt was the second happiest man in the paddock: “It was a tough job today, but Marco did a splendid job all season, and he deserves this, we are very, very happy.”
Stefan Reinhold, Director of BMW Team RMG: “After qualifying yesterday we didn’t know what could happen, the car wasn’t at its best, but in the end Marco did the job, so we are all very happy.”
Pascal Wehrlein, who controlled the race to become the youngest ever DTM race winner, kept his cool: “When I changed to the option tyres I increased my gap to Christian, so I just tried to bring it home, look after the car, and I’m very happy, the strategy was very good, I can’t complain today.”
The next round of the DTM will take place at Zandvoort on the 28th September.