Audi was dominant in the two DTM races at Spielberg. At the Red Bull Ring, the drivers from Ingolstadt claimed both pole positions and all six podium places this weekend.
Thus, the Audi drivers got themselves into a perfect position for the finale at Hockenheim. Mattias Ekström, who finished fifth on Sunday, is leading in the championship with 172 points from Sunday’s race winner René Rast (151) and Jamie Green (137).
After the 16th race of the season, Mike Rockenfeller is now in fourth place as the fourth Audi driver in the top four, tied on points with BMW’s Marco Wittmann. Mercedes-AMG driver Lucas Auer (131) is sixth and also still has a mathematical chance of winning the title.
Jamie Green was the fastest driver of the entire weekend by far. The Brit pulled off the rare feat of claiming both pole positions. Nevertheless, he ended up as a knight of the sorrowful face. On Saturday, he had to make way for Mattias Ekström in the battle for victory in the closing stages of the race for the benefit of the team.
On Sunday, Green was slowed down by gearshift problems while in the lead. Eventually, he dropped back to 14th. “That was really sad. There is nothing I can do, today just wasn’t my day. It is a bit spooky indeed: two years ago, exactly the same happened to me here at Spielberg. Like today, I was in the lead and all of a sudden, I was no longer able to change gear,” Green said.
One could only guess what his real feelings were. “Unfortunately, the driver who would have deserved it most today is missing on the podium,” team-mate Nico Müller said. Ekström added: “That really is hardcore. He was incredibly fast, but didn’t have any luck.”
René Rast benefited from Green’s misfortune as he was handed his third win of the season on a plate. Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller completed the success for Audi. “Still, anything can happen at Hockenheim. A slight mistake or a problem with the car and everything is open again,” rookie driver Rast said given his gap of only 21 points to Ekström prior to the showdown.
A race, which was rather unspectacular until that point, became exciting as a result of a safety car intervention after 31 laps. BMW driver Bruno Spengler had tapped Lucas Auer into a spin in his home race, after which the latter retired with a damaged rear section of his car. After his eighth place from the previous day, ‘Luggi’ saw his chances massively reduced.
“That is racing. When you are well down in the field, it can happen that you are hit. Nevertheless, racing in front of the many spectators here in Austria was cool,” Auer said. His massive disappointment was clear to see on his face.
Race winner Rast commented the restart as follows: “That is exactly what you don’t want when you have pulled a gap from the others, but we dealt well with the situation. After that, it was the same as before.”
Marco Wittmann, who dropped back from fourth to seventh at the restart and was involved in several smaller battles, especially with the Audi drivers, wasn’t particularly amused.
The defending champion was like a lone voice in the wilderness. The complaints about the driving conduct of his opponents that he aired over the radio several times also largely remained unheard. Apart from one occasion in which race control decided that Ekström had to let Wittmann get past again as he had pushed him too wide off the track at the restart.
“I am disappointed and angry. After the weight balance, Audi now clearly has the car with the best race pace in the field. When you then also have to slow down the opposition, that is not okay. I am the type of racing driver who wants to see hard and fair races. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what we had today,” Wittmann said after finishing sixth behind Ekström.
It didn’t take long for the counter to arrive. “Perhaps he should stop complaining for once. I don’t know what he means. I overtook him on the track and when he is faster, he should overtake me again. That is possible. What more should I say? It is starting to get annoying,” Nico Müller replied to his opponent.
As a result of these verbal encounter, the very good driving performance by Gary Paffett almost remained unnoticed. The Mercedes-AMG driver had started from sixth place. Prior to the restart, he was seventh.
“After that, I was able to overtake two cars with Marco and ‘Eki’. Because of Green’s problem, I finished fourth. That was relatively good."
"It isn’t ideal, but given the pace we had this weekend, it is the best possible result,” the Brit kept a low profile.