August 03, 2015 @ 03:30 PM

Audi wins, but at what cost?

Race 2 at the Red Bull Ring, Audi continues to dominate amidst a controversial end.

The weather had completely turned around at Spielberg on Sunday, instead of a cheery morning greeted by blue skies, the drivers found themselves battling the rain. Yes, unlike Race 1, Race 2 was a complete wash but that did not stop the Audi drivers from once again locking out the front row.
 
Mattias Ekstrom and Mike Rockenfeller both traded fastest lap times during qualifying before Ekstrom put his Red Bull Audi RS 5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline on the top spot of the grid on his last lap. This is the first time since the 2012 DTM opening race and the 20th time in his DTM career since he has been on top.

 
Mike Rockenfeller parked his Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM of the Audi Sport Team Phoenix firmly in second place. Rockenfeller was only five thousandths of a second slower than Ekstrom’s P1 time. Race 1 winner, Edoardo Mortara in the Castrol Edge Audi RS 5 DTM only secured sixth on the grid. But Audi was proud to announce that six Audi RS 5 DTM cars secured a spot in the top eleven of the grid.
Ekstrom continued to dominate the entire race later in the day. Not only did the Swede lead from start to finish, he also timed the fastest lap of the race as well. Edoardo Mortara followed up his Saturday win with a third place for Audi, behind Gary Paffett in the Mercedes-AMG DTM car in second. Paffett was engaged in a battle with Ekstrom for a good 34 laps much to the excitement of the crowd.
 
Mike Rockenfeller lost his second place to first Paffett then to team mate Mortara but finished fourth overall and with Nico Muller in the Audi Financial Services Audi RS 5 DTM in fifth. Both drivers were delighted with their results as this is their highest point scoring position this season. Muller in particular had had to fight his way up from eleventh place.
 
But the paddock’s attention were all focussed on the three-way battle between Timo Scheider in the Auto Test Audi RS 5 DTM and Mercedes-AMG drivers Robert Wickens and Pascal Wehrlein in sixth place. Wickens artfully blocked Scheider to allow Wehrlein to overtake both of them to take sixth position. Team orders were at play but all was forgotten when Audi’s head of motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was heard shouting into the team radio to “Push him off” which saw Scheider running into Wickens’ car, this sent both Wickens and Wehrlein spinning into the gravel trap. Scheider later claimed that he did not hear any instruction to push the Mercedes’ off and that Wicken had braked hard causing him to run into the back of the Mercedes.
 

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich later extended an apology to the Mercedes team: “After the move by Mercedes, I was so upset and cried: ‘Push him off’. That was out of emotion and I want to apologize to Mercedes for this. I wasn’t aware that the radio was on at that time.” 
 
In response, Ulrich Fritz, head of Mercedes-AMG DTM: “It always takes two to tango. One who gives the instruction, that was clear for everyone to hear, and one who follows it. The whole thing had nothing to do with fair racing. We don’t want to see something like that in the DTM. The overtaking move prior to that was hard, but fair.”
As a result, Audi’s Timo Scheider clinched the sixth spot while both Mercedes-AMG DTM drivers had to hiked back to the pits. The remaining three Audi drivers: Miguel Molina, Adrien Tambay and Jamie Green did not finish in the points on Sunday.
 
So in a difficult race that started behind the safety car, the experience trumps the faster drivers but victory was overshadowed by the controversial end to the battle for sixth place. What will happen next in the DTM race weekend in Moscow in August 28th to 30th? We can only wait and see.
 
Jerrica Leong

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