|Round 5 & 6 of the DTM at the Norisring saw Mercedes-Benz claim double wins, courtesy of Pascal Wehrlein and Robert Wickens. The momentum had shifted to favor the much lighter Mercedes C-Coupes at Germany’s Monaco GP track.|
This was Wehrlein’s second victory in the DTM, following his maiden win at the Lausitzring last year. Wickens, meanwhile, got his third win in the DTM. Mercedes had attained their 13th victory at the Norisring since 2003.
The first race went to Wehrlein, who topped Wickens, Gary Paffett and Christian Vietoris; it was a Mercedes 1-2-3-4. Race two had Wickens and Vietoris as the top two runners in a much more exciting race. Bruno Spengler took the final podium spot of race two as he dispatched Mattias Ekstrom on the penultimate lap, after a tough duel all race long.
From the start, Spengler on pole was exposed to heavy attacks by the Mercedes-Benz drivers. After a good start, the Canadian came out of the first corner as the leader in the race. Behind him, his compatriot Wickens was already biding his chance after an equally good start in which he overtook Vietoris to move up from third on the grid to second place in the race. Next up was Lucas Auer, who had passed Ekström after the start.
In this order, the front runners drove around the track 13 times. Spengler drove in a charging way and defended his position with everything he had. Then, however, his rivals came to the fore. Wickens was the first to overtake the leader in the Grundig hairpin. Spengler’s counter-attack was unsuccessful and the others saw their chances. On the same lap, Vietoris, Auer and Ekström also overtook the Canadian. As the leading group headed onto the main straight, Spengler only found himself in fifth place and was exposed to the attacks by sixth-placed Wehrlein, but he managed to stay ahead of the German. While Wickens and Vietoris were completing their laps in an untroubled manner, the duel that made its mark on the final stages took place behind them: Spengler got closer and closer to Ekström in the battle for third place. Time and again, the Canadian attempted to overtake the Swede. On the penultimate lap, he started his final and decisive attack in the Grundig hairpin: with some risk and slight contact, Spengler worked his way past Ekström and secured third place.
Behind the quartet, Wehrlein was fifth, Paul Di Resta sixth, Paffett seventh and Daniel Juncadella eighth. Lucas Auer made it seven of eight Mercedes cars in the top ten with a ninth place finish. Auer, who served a 5-second penalty, fought his way back from the brink to secure important points. Only Mercedes’ DTM rookie Maximilian Götz failed to finish the race, following a radiator issue in the early going.
In race 1, the thunderstorm, heavy downpour affected the fifth round prior to the start. Wehrlein went straight out on slicks, unlike Wickens, Paffett and Vietoris. His fellow Mercedes drivers bolted on wet-weather tyres.
After ten laps of racing, many things made the call for slick tyres initially look like the wrong decision. Seven drivers had opted for the wet weather tyres, pulled away from the rest of the field and partly made up over four seconds per lap. First and foremost pole-sitter Vietoris, who led the field from his fellow Mercedes drivers Paffett, Wickens and Di Resta.
In fifth place, Martin Tomczyk flew the flag for BMW while another Mercedes driver, Daniel Juncadella, followed with rain tyres. The example of Mike Rockenfeller showed how superior this option was in the first half of the race. The German had started from 22nd place and made it up all the way to seventh place within nine laps. However, when the track dried out more, it was clear to everyone that a change from wet to dry weather tyres was unavoidable.
Between lap 14 and 19, all seven drivers with their rain tyres turned into the pits and all seven rejoined the race with dry weather tyres behind Wehrlein. The margin they had established beforehand was too small; Vietoris, who slotted in into second place behind his fellow Mercedes-Benz driver, was two seconds short. On lap 21, Wickens first Vietoris for second place. Two laps later, Paffett did it likewise and took third place. Then, it was enough for the four Mercedes-Benz drivers; the order remained unchanged for the remaining 23 laps until the chequered flag was out.
Although the outcome at Norisring was much less favorable for the drivers’ standings leader, Green still leads by an eleven-point advantage over his fellow RS 5 DTM driver Ekström, who is three points ahead of the third-placed driver. After the first third of the season, Audi maintains the top spot in the manufacturers’ classification, with an advantage of 48 points over Mercedes-Benz.
The fourth race weekend of the DTM season is on the program in just two weeks’ time when the series will be staged from 10 – 12 July at the well established Dutch circuit in Zandvoort.