Seventh DTM career win for the championship leader
Marco Wittmann best-placed BMW driver in third
Entertaining duel: René Rast against Robin Frijnsxxx
The Nico Müller Show continues: the championship leader having had to make do with a pair of third places in the DTM round at Assen one week ago, the Swiss dominated the first race at the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit with his Audi RS 5 DTM. With a margin of over 15 seconds, Müller won from rival René Rast (GER, Audi). For Müller, it already is his seventh DTM career win. But as if that wasn’t enough, Müller even pulled off the proverbial motorsport hattrick at the 5.148 kilometres long Grand Prix track in the Eifel: pole position, victory and fastest race lap – it couldn’t have been any better. Behind defending champion Rast, BMW driver Marco Wittmann finished third. For the two-time DTM champion, it was the 35th podium finish of his career in the series.
The start didn’t lead to any position changes at the front of the field: pole sitter Müller had a good getaway and had no problems defending his lead from second-placed Rast. Dutchman Robin Frijns (Audi) defended his position from Wittmann, having started third. Mike Rockenfeller (GER, Audi), who had started from fifth on the grid, tried his luck with an early pit stop and already came in for his tyre change at the end of lap eight. Temporarily running second, however, the former champion increasingly lacked grip in the closing stages of the race and finished fourth as a result.
Spectacular duel between Rast and Frijns
Robin Frijns, who secured his maiden DTM race win a week ago, staged the action of the day. For the best part of the race, the Dutchman was involved in a highly exciting duel for second place with René Rast. Particularly interesting: both drivers are directly behind each other in the DTM drivers’ standings, so it wasn’t just about the position in the race, but also for the runner-up spot in the championship. On lap 27, Frijns put all his eggs in one basket and tried to squeeze his way past Rast by virtue of an extremely late braking manoeuvre on the inside for the first corner. The attempt didn’t work out as Frijns’s Audi jumped hard over the kerbstones under braking and the Dutchman couldn’t avoid a spectacular spin. Marco Wittmann, who was right behind him, had the last laugh and moved up into third while Frijns still managed to bring fifth place home.
Prior to the tenth race of the season (Sunday from 13.00 hrs live on SAT.1), Müller is leading the DTM drivers’ standings at 192 points from Frijns (149), who defended his second place in the standings from Rast (140).
» Quotes – race 1, Nürburgring Grand Prix
“That was a perfect race. I had a super start, a very good pit stop, the strategy was perfect and the tyre management worked out, too. I am enjoying this victory. In the past weeks, not everything worked the way I wanted it, but today, it definitely did. Especially qualifying with pole position was a good foundation for today’s success. If possible, we always want to improve further. More victories are our goal.”
Nico Müller (SUI), Audi, winner
“Initially, I tried to follow Nico Müller, but soon, I had nothing left to put him under pressure. The first stint wasn’t that good while I also lost time in the battle with Robin Frijns. From my perspective, the second stint was better. I was really late on the brakes into turn 1, Robin was even later. After that, I could safely bring my second place home, I just looked into my rear-view mirror to control the gap to Marco Wittmann. For Nico Müller, everything just went perfectly today, that was outstanding.”
René Rast (GER), Audi, 2nd place
“I am very happy. That was a good day in qualifying and in the race today. After all, we are generally struggling with our pace, but today, it was okay, even though it wasn’t good enough. The podium finish was a bit fortunate as a result from Robin Frijns spinning out. From that perspective, we got the maximum out of these dry conditions. We still have some work ahead of us. However, I hope we can get closer in the second half of the season.”
Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW, 3rd place
» Results – race 1, Nürburgring Grand Prix
01. Nico Müller (SUI), Audi RS 5 DTM, 31 laps in 58m 10.251s
02. René Rast (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 15.655s
03. Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW M4 DTM, + 18.141s
04. Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 20.842s
05. Robin Frijns (NED), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 22.978s
06. Philipp Eng (AUT), BMW M4 DTM, + 23.389s
07. Timo Glock (GER), BMW M4 DTM, + 28.101s
08. Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), BMW M4 DTM, + 31.236s
09. Loïc Duval (FRA), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 38.442s
10. Jonathan Aberdein (RSA), BMW M4 DTM, + 46.735s
Fastest lap: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi RS 5 DTM, 1m 49.975s
Pole position: Nico Müller (SUI), Audi RS 5 DTM, 1m 46.834s
Weather conditions: 24°C, sunny
Track conditions: 36°C, dry surface