Wittmann not completely happy with the Zandvoort weekend
Just like for the majority of his fellow BMW drivers, the Zandvoort weekend also represented the long awaited clearance for Marco Wittmann. Following the disappointing start into the season, the reigning champion won one of the two Zandvoort rounds and finished fifth in the other. Nonetheless, the German isn’t fully happy with what he achieved in the races contested at the Dutch North Sea coast.
In the recent past, Wittmann’s life wasn’t a bed of roses but after the qualifying session for the Saturday race, the gin was back on the face of the defending champion. With a lap time that was just eight thousands of a second slower than the one of pole-sitter Augusto Farfus, Wittmann secured second position on the grid. “To be back at the front end of the field after the difficult start into the season really feels great. The start into the meeting definitely was better than on any other race weekend of the season so far. It was great to make it back to the first row and be where we used to be last year,” said the visibly relaxed BMW driver.
When the starting lights were switched off under the setting sun, the 25-year old responded as fast as lightning and rocketed away clearly faster than pole-sitter Farfus. Wittmann took the lead before entering turn one but fellow BMW driver António Félix da Costa followed close behind and pressurised Wittmann consistently. At the end of the day, however, the Portuguese didn’t want to take too many risks and settled for finishing runner-up. While the man with the #1 on his car celebrated his first race win since his triumph last year at the Nürburgring. ”A fantastic result,” Wittman beamed after the race, “I wouldn’t mind if we should continue like that, tomorrow.” But it wasn’t to be.
The initial position for the Sunday race also wasn’t too bad. He secured fourth grid position, some 1.5 tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Félix da Costa. And the result of the Saturday race demonstrated that everything is possible from the second row of the grid. But when the race was over, Wittmann even had lost a position and had to settle for finishing fifth. “I really can’t say that I’m happy,” Wittmann admitted. “I would have loved to make it to the podium but there were numerous circumstances that prevented me from doing so. Even with a lot of ambition and fighting spirit, finishing fifth was the best I could achieve today.”
The reigning champion was particularly annoyed by the course of the race. “I lost a position during my pit stop as Schnitzer stopped right ahead of us and I had to wait until I could drive to my pit crew. This was just bad luck. But then, when I was about to exit the pit lane, Miguel Molina went fully on my line. We touched and he tried to push me over the white line. I really wonder why he wasn’t penalised. In my eyes, this definitely was an unsafe release,” Wittman described the situation to then add: “Okay, I succeeded in passing him nevertheless but then I had some battles with a certain Mr Auer who apparently seems to enjoy blocking others. As I see it, he’d rather go back to the driving school. He was racing on old tyres while we all rejoined the races on fresh sets of tyres. To block a driver that much in such a situation and close the door although you already are next to him – on the inside… You just have to ask yourself what he is thinking. Then, he fully hit the side of my car and I turned him around and came close to spinning myself. As I see it, destroying other drivers’ races is just – annoying.”
Nonetheless, thanks to the successes at Zandvoort, Wittmann leaped from 15th to 7th position in the championship. But this doesn’t mean that he is the best-place BMW driver in the standings. Bruno Spengler has got three points more on his tally and holds the position right ahead of Wittmann.
In a few weeks, the next DTM doubleheader, staged by the Red Bull Ring, will offer the reigning champion the next chance of making up for the lost ground. But Marco Wittmann travels to Austria with mixed emotions: “We have to wait and see what will happen at Spielberg,” he says. “It goes without saying that the situation will be more difficult, with the additional performance weight aboard.” Nonetheless, he is optimistic: “With a race win and a second place in two years, my Red Bull Ring record is really great and couldn’t have been far better. Therefore, I’m looking forward to racing there again.”