Nico Müller leads home Audi 1-2-3 in red flag interrupted DTM finale

Nico Müller leads home Audi 1-2-3 in red flag interrupted DTM finale

Photo: Audi

Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Nico Müller took victory in the final DTM race of the season, the Swiss driver overcoming the extremely wet conditions at the Hockenheimring and the early red flag to retake the lead on the final lap.

The Swiss driver lead home Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Mike Rockenfeller, and 2019 series champion René Rast.

As drivers made their way round the first of two warm-up laps, it was announced that the race would be shortened, first to 52 minutes, and then an updated decision revealed the race would run to 49 minutes + 1 lap.

Away from the grid Müller made an excellent start, and was able to quickly gap the chasing pack as the field disputed positions through the opening sector. Through the Parabolika, there was a temporary four-wide moment as Rast went round the outside of BMW Team RMR’s Timo Glock, and BMW Team RMR’s Marco Wittmann and Rockenfeller which became the inside into the Turn 6 hairpin.

The race was then neutralised as the safety car was brought out as a result of Lexus Team Tom’s Nick Cassidy spinning off to the right hand side and striking the wall through Turn 7. Replays showed that light contact with Audi Sport Team WRT’s Jonathan Aberdein was enough to send the New Zealander into a spin.

As the field lined up behind the safety car the race was red flagged as R-Motorsports’ Daniel Juncadella had stopped as his Vantage erupted in plumes of smoke. It was a disastrous start for the Swiss outfit as Paul Di Resta had stopped during the warm-up laps with an unknown issue.

The safety car guided the field round for one lap, with race direction aborting the Indy-style restart, and the race was resumed with 43 minutes remaining.

Müller perfectly executed the restart and, despite overtaking attempts from Rast, was able to hold on to his lead.

A lap later nine cars made their way to pitlane, believing that stopping early would benefit them due to the longevity of the wet Hankook tyres. However, the busy pits would be the undoing of Wittmann who was deemed to have been released unfairly into the path of Aberdein, and was subsequently handed a drive-through penalty.

Müller made his mandatory stop on lap six, but suffered a slow stop as one of the mechanics slipped on the wet pit surface. The Swiss drive was fortunate to not lose his lead to Rast who completed his compulsory visit to the pits a lap later.

The 2019 DTM champion appeared to struggle on new tyres, and slipped wide at Turn 10, before losing his effective second place to Rockenfeller who made a successful move at the hairpin on lap nine.

The running order remained consistent for much of the race, as Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s Jamie Green and BMW Team RBM’s Joel Eriksson did not pit until the very last opportunity as the final lap board was displayed.

Müller inherited the lead on the final lap, and lead Rockenfeller by around 4 seconds, with Rast completing the podium. The Team Abt driver becoming the only driver to finish every race of the 2019 season.

Glock was able to pass the rejoining Green to take fourth at the flag and be the best placed BMW, with Green an impressive fifth from that alternative strategy.

Eriksson took sixth after making the last gasp stop, beating the second Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline car of Robin Frijns in seventh.

R-Motorsports’ Jake Dennis drove a strong race to climb from 11th to eighth at the flag, claiming his first double-points weekend of the season.

BMW Team RMG’s Bruno Spengler crossed the line in ninth, with Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Loïc Duval rounding out the top ten.

Wittmann dropped to 12th at the flag after a difficult final race for the two-time champion.

Jenson Button was once again the best placed SuperGT competitor, as the Honda Team Kunimitsu driver took 16th place nearly a lap down. Ronnie Quintarelli did finish the race, the Nissan Nismo driver made two visits to pitlane en route to 17th place.

Race result

1 51 Nico MÜLLER Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 27 1:04:45.023 1:52.529 1
2 99 Mike ROCKENFELLER Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 27 3.835 1:52.014 6
3 33 René RAST Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 27 8.403 1:52.032 8
4 16 Timo GLOCK BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 27 11.849 1:52.087 2
5 53 Jamie GREEN Audi Sport Team Rosberg Audi RS5 DTM 27 13.094 1:52.799 3
6 47 Joel ERIKSSON BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 27 16.248 1:52.765 4
7 4 Robin FRIJNS Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline Audi RS5 DTM 27 22.172 1:52.860 9
8 76 Jake DENNIS R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage DTM 27 36.954 1:53.305 11
9 7 Bruno SPENGLER BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 27 51.319 1:54.091 14
10 28 Loïc DUVAL Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi RS5 DTM 27 55.877 1:53.901 10
11 62 Ferdinand VON HABSBURG R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage DTM 27 58.838 1:54.226 12
12 11 Marco WITTMANN BMW Team RMG BMW M4 DTM 27 59.767 1:53.834 5
13 31 Sheldon VAN DER LINDE BMW Team RBM BMW M4 DTM 27 1:00.417 1:54.075 15
14 25 Philipp ENG BMW Team RMR BMW M4 DTM 27 1:01.873 1:53.395 7
15 21 Pietro FITTIPALDI Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 27 1:30.051 1:54.141 21
16 1 Jenson BUTTON Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT GT500 27 1:55.243 1:55.023 19
17 35 Ronnie QUINTARELLI Nismo Nissan GT-R Nismo GT500 26 + 1 LAP 1:56.255 20
R 27 Jonathan ABERDEIN Audi Sport Team WRT Audi RS5 DTM 14 DNF 1:54.808 13
R 23 Daniel JUNCADELLA R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage DTM 0 DNF N/A 18
R 37 Nick CASSIDY Lexus Team KeePer TOM’S Lexus LC 500 GT500 0 DNF N/A 16
NS 3 Paul DI RESTA R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage DTM DNS N/A 17