Race 2014: numerous crashes behind the leader – and Wittmann wins
In the 2014 season, the last but three event on the DTM calendar represented a kind of early decision in the battle for the title. Once again, Marco Wittmann – in his only second DTM season – took the chequered flag as race winner. It was the second consecutive win for the BMW driver – he also had made it to the highest step of the podium at Spielberg – and his fourth in the 2014 season so far. As his previously toughest rivals – Mattias Ekström and Bruno Spengler – had to leave the Eifel empty-handed, the young German extended his lead to 64 points and the title was virtually won.
Wittmann laid the foundation to his race win in the qualifying session. He secured the pole, made perfect use of it by taking the lead right at the start and crossed the line after 49 laps as race winner. “I’m proud of our performance,” he said after the race. “I could open a crucial gap right after the start and go my own pace, afterwards. I had a free track and it goes without saying that not having to cope with traffic makes your life easier.” A situation several of his colleagues only could have dreamed about. Particularly in the opening stages of the race, the racing partly got really wild and as a result, quite a number of drivers were forced into early retirement.
Right after the start, for instance, Miguel Molina and Jamie Green had a close encounter, with the Spaniard having to retire a short time later. Furthermore, Mattias Ekström and Timo Glock collided on lap one. The Swede who had travelled to the Nürburgring as toughest title rival of Wittmann and started into the race from 22nd grid position had to retire due to the damaged rear of his Audi. Just six laps later, the race of his fellow Audi drivers Timo Scheider and Nico Müller also came to an early end. Scheider was touched at the rear by Mercedes-Benz driver Robert Wickens while braking into turn one and consequently crashed into the car of Müller. Scheider pitted to retire and Müller parked his RS5 DTM at the side of the track.
While some of his rivals gave each other a hard time, race leader Wittmann kept on racing in superior style. He quickly opened a two-second gap on second-placed Mike Rockenfeller and so, the closest rival couldn’t make use of the DRS. The young German kept on pushing and extended his lead to about four seconds to celebrate – despite a braking mistake in the chicane – a never jeopardised win. Even Mike Rockenfeller couldn’t but praise the race winner: “He was quicker throughout the race and controlled it at any time.” Third place was secured by Audi’s Edoardo Mortara and so, Rockenfeller and Mortara turned the Nürburgring race meeting into a pleasant weekend for their manufacturer – despite the numerous retirements.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz were pipped in the battle for the podium but with five cars in the top 10, the Stuttgarters impressed with a great team effort. Paul Di Resta, Daniel Juncadella and Christian Vietoris finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, Robert Wickens and Pascal Wehrlein came ninth and tenth. At the same time, Bruno Spengler crossed the line two positions behind Wehrlein – and his chances of winning the title were over.