Wittmann leads BMW to historic success
Probably, hardly anyone had expected this after the results from the first six DTM races of the season: BMW dominated the race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands on Saturday and saw seven of its eight BMW M4 DTMs lock out the first seven places. Reigning DTM champion Marco Wittmann was the dominant winner in the 40 minutes’ race. “A dream result,” a delighted Wittmann said after the finish. “I wouldn’t say no when things continue like that tomorrow.” António Félix da Costa, who scored his best DTM result in second position, and third-placed Belgian Maxime Martin rounded out the podium at Zandvoort. Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler, Timo Glock and Tom Blomqvist in fourth to seventh place completed the historic success for BMW.
On Saturday, Audi and Mercedes-Benz had no luck. Both Gary Paffett with his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM and points’ leader and Audi’s spearhead Jamie Green failed to score points in spite of their good stating grid positions. Green slid into the gravel trap following a driver’s error on lap 18 and had to retire. “That was a little error with a big effect,” Jamie Green commented. Only a slight consolation for the brand from Ingolstadt: Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller were the best-placed Audi drivers in eighth and ninth place.
In the battle for fourth on the penultimate lap, Paffett also took too many risks while trying to overtake Augusto Farfus. After slight contact, he slid off the track and thus lost his fifth place that seemed to be certain until that mishap. Eventually, Paffett took the chequered flag in eleventh place. “Augusto did a good job in defending his position and briefly tapped the brakes there, which really surprised me,” Paffett explained. “I knew that consistency would be the key to success and that I could only make up positions towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out.” A few metres after the start, Paul Di Resta caused a five laps’ safety car intervention: after contact with Robert Wickens, the Scot crashed into the Armco barriers. At Zandvoort, Pascal Wehrlein was the best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver in tenth position.
Wittmann already laid the foundation for his first win of the season and the fifth victory of his DTM career at the start. The 25-year-old had a significantly better getaway than his fellow BMW driver and pole sitter Augusto Farfus and took the lead. In the course of the race, only second-placed Félix da Costa remained within striking distance to Wittmann. The Portuguese placed several attacks on his fellow BMW driver, but eventually didn’t take any risks and safely brought second place home. “For the first time this season, we were really quick,” Félix da Costa said. “Second place is wonderful, and tomorrow, I already have the next chance to score a good result.”
BMW’s success is a historic one in the DTM: never before did a manufacturer succeed in locking out the first seven places. Mercedes-Benz had a clean sweep of the first six places at Hockenheim in 2001 and at Barcelona in 2007. Audi also scored a top six lock-out in the DTM, at Valencia in 2011. “Of course, such a success is sensational,” BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt says. “The track suits our car and the performance weights have contributed to this success, too. However, we have to be realistic: since the race at Norisring, the balance of power hasn’t changed as much as it looks. For the motivation of our team, today was very important.”
After seven races, Jamie Green remains on top of the drivers’ standings with 81 points from Mattias Ekström (70 points) and Pascal Wehrlein (68 points). After his first win of the season, Marco Wittmann has moved up to sixth behind Edoardo Mortara (58 points) and Robert Wickens (57 points). He now has 39 points.
The second race at Zandvoort gets underway on Sunday at 14:10 hrs (live on ARD). Prior to that, grid positions for the race will be determined in qualifying from 11:35 hrs.