Marco Wittmann dominated the opening Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters race of the season at the Hockenheimring, beating nearest rival Mattias Ekstrom by 12.869s with pole-sitter Adrien Tambay in third.
The RMG BMW driver was jumped off the line by a fast starting Bruno Spengler, but quickly regained second spot on the run down to turn two, before pouncing on Tambay at the hairpin on lap three to take the lead, with the pair comfortably ahead of everyone else.
Wittmann build a comfortable lead from that point until the end of the race, leaving the rest of the field to squabble as he claimed his first victory in the series.
The start was electric with cars four abreast into the hairpin, but it was not a favourable first lap for Jamie Green who suffered damage to the front end of his Team Rosberg Audi, which became terminal as he retired from the race at the end of the second lap.
After a lightning start, Spengler began to hold up those behind him which allowed the front two to break away, before Antonio Felix da Costa, Timo Golck and Timo Scheider all made their way around the BMW driver.
The leading five – split into their two groups – were then some way ahead of the competition, with eyes further down the order looking towards a charging Robert Wickens. The Mercedes driver, who started on rwo ten of the grid, charged his way through the field and was easily the fastest of the struggling Mercedes machines passing past Spengler for eighth, before picking off Ekstrom and Edoardo Mortara with some great DRS-assisted moves into the hairpin to hold sixth place.
The Canadian was unable to sustain his pace however, and he ended up in 18th place as he got a taste of his own medicine in the second half of the race, with a number of cars overtaking him into the hairpin.
On lap seven Scheider made his move past Glock for fourth, and slowly eroded da Costa’s advantage in third, reeling in the debutante before passing him around the outside of the hairpin.
Positions remained the same until the pitstops, where Glock was able to jump da Costa for fourth, but the Portuguese regained fourth on lap 26, with Scheider still in front. What seemed to be a three-way fight for the final podium slot turned briefly into a four car battle with Ekstrom charging through the pack.
As Ekstrom closed ever nearer, da Costa made an ill-fated move for third on Scheider, spinning the latter around and earning the rookie a drive-through penalty. His race was ruined from there, as he pitted before serving his penalty, with a lengthy stop to change tyres costing him any chance of points as he finished a lap down in 21st.
It took Ekstrom just a lap more to pass Glock going through the Parabolica, and he set about Tambay’s second place, passing the Frenchman with four laps to go before settling for second.
Reigning champion Mike Rockenfeller led a similar charge to Ekstrom, with a quiet but efficient day of racing capped by a pass on Glock for fourth two laps from the finish. After his earlier spin, Scheider went into the last lap having to defend sixth from Augusto Farfus, Spengler and Martin Tomczyk, and looked to have secured the eight points for that position before Farfus’ impatience led him to hit Scheider, allowing Spengler and Tomczyk to claim sixth and seventh with Farfus ahead of Spengler on the line. Joey Hand claimed the final point in tenth.
Pascal Wehrlein and Gary Paffett were 11th and 12th in their Mercedes, just outside of the points, but in reality all of the Mercedes teams have work to do as those results flattered their disappointing pace. Paul di Resta was 14th on his return of the series.
Top ten result
|1||23||Marco WITTMANN||BMW Team RMG||BMW M4 DTM||42||1:06:40.548||1:33.464||2|
|2||7||Mattias EKSTRÖM||Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline||Audi RS5 DTM||42||12.869||1:32.755||5|
|3||16||Adrien TAMBAY||Audi Sport Team Abt||Audi RS5 DTM||42||14.879||1:33.490||1|
|4||1||Mike ROCKENFELLER||Audi Sport Team Phoenix||Audi RS5 DTM||42||17.593||1:32.963||11|
|5||17||Timo GLOCK||BMW Team MTEK||BMW M4 DTM||42||21.78||1:33.717||9|
|6||9||Bruno SPENGLER||BMW Team Schnitzer||BMW M4 DTM||42||23.513||1:32.948||4|
|7||10||Martin TOMCZYK||BMW Team Schnitzer||BMW M4 DTM||42||24.082||1:32.532||8|
|8||3||Augusto FARFUS||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||42||24.913||1:32.734||12|
|9||2||Timo SCHEIDER||Audi Sport Team Phoenix||Audi RS5 DTM||42||26.138||1:33.373||10|
|10||4||Joey HAND||BMW Team RBM||BMW M4 DTM||42||34.759||1:32.978||17|