Oschersleben 2014: Vietoris secures win thanks to tactics
Strange, chaotic, surprising: three adjectives that perfectly describe last year’s race at Oschersleben. At the end of the first lap of the 2014 season’s second round, arguably nobody would have set a single ha’penny on Christian Vietoris. After all, the Mercedes-Benz driver had chosen the apparently wrong tyres, prior to the start. At the end of the information lap, Vietoris opted for pitting for wets and starting the race from the pit lane – a tactical mistake. Then, however, he benefited from the chaos on the track and a clever pit-stop strategy. With just eight more laps to go, he still held an unpromising midfield position but a short time later, he surprised everybody by taking the chequered flag as race winner. It was the first win in the German’s DTM career.
It was a race dominated by the weather and different strategies. The rain began to fall over Oschersleben as early as during the information lap. That was the reason why Vietoris – and fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Daniel Juncadella – opted for pitting for wets before the race had begun. Furthermore, he had had to settle for 16th grid position, after the qualifying session. But despite the slight drizzle, the track remained mostly dry and consequently, the drivers on slicks where able to set the clearly quicker lap times. With BMW’s Marco Wittmann as leader of the pack, the drivers on slicks quickly opened a big gap on the rest of the field.
When Robert Wickens skidded off the track on lap 10, this incident caused the first of a total of three safety-car periods. In the meantime, the track was so wet – Wickens wasn’t he first driver who had lost it – that Vietoris’ wets would have worked. But they were worn down to such an extent that they couldn’t give him a major advantage. At the same time, the race turned into a more and more chaotic event. As soon as the safety car had come in again – on lap 13 – Wittmann and Gary Paffett stranded in the gravel. Furthermore, Timo Glock and Mike Rockenfeller collided – and the safety car had to be sent out again. At the restart on lap 17, Adrien Tambay was the race leader, followed by his fellow Audi drivers Timo Scheider and Jamie Green. Two laps later, Vietoris pitted for a fresh set of tyres. A move that turned out to have been crucial as he wasn’t going to make another stop.
The German now pushed really hard and battled his way up step by step – with another safety-cat period – from lap 28 to 31 – proving to be very helpful. He passed opponents such as Mike Rockenfeller and a short time later, he overtook Edoardo Mortara for eighth position. And three laps later – as all the drivers in front of him had to come in for another stop – the Mercedes driver was the new race leader. From that point in time, Vietoris controlled the race to celebrate his first and – to date – only DTM win, with Mike Rockenfeller and Edoardo Mortara finishing second and third respectively.