DTM

WITTMANN LEADS BMW TO HISTORIC SUCCESS

Probably, hardly anyone had expected this after the results from the first six DTM races of the season: BMW dominated the race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands on Saturday and saw seven of its eight BMW M4 DTMs lock out the first seven places. Reigning DTM champion Marco Wittmann was the dominant winner in the 40 minutes’ race. “A dream result,” a delighted Wittmann said after the finish. “I wouldn’t say no when things continue like that tomorrow.” António Félix da Costa, who scored his best DTM result in second position, and third-placed Belgian Maxime Martin rounded out the podium at Zandvoort. Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler, Timo Glock and Tom Blomqvist in fourth to seventh place completed the historic success for BMW.

On Saturday, Audi and Mercedes-Benz had no luck. Both Gary Paffett with his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM and points’ leader and Audi’s spearhead Jamie Green failed to score points in spite of their good stating grid positions. Green slid into the gravel trap following a driver’s error on lap 18 and had to retire. “That was a little error with a big effect,” Jamie Green commented. Only a slight consolation for the brand from Ingolstadt: Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller were the best-placed Audi drivers in eighth and ninth place.

In the battle for fourth on the penultimate lap, Paffett also took too many risks while trying to overtake Augusto Farfus. After slight contact, he slid off the track and thus lost his fifth place that seemed to be certain until that mishap. Eventually, Paffett took the chequered flag in eleventh place. “Augusto did a good job in defending his position and briefly tapped the brakes there, which really surprised me,” Paffett explained. “I knew that consistency would be the key to success and that I could only make up positions towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out.” A few metres after the start, Paul Di Resta caused a five laps’ safety car intervention: after contact with Robert Wickens, the Scot crashed into the Armco barriers. At Zandvoort, Pascal Wehrlein was the best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver in tenth position.

Wittmann already laid the foundation for his first win of the season and the fifth victory of his DTM career at the start. The 25-year-old had a significantly better getaway than his fellow BMW driver and pole sitter Augusto Farfus and took the lead. In the course of the race, only second-placed Félix da Costa remained within striking distance to Wittmann. The Portuguese placed several attacks on his fellow BMW driver, but eventually didn’t take any risks and safely brought second place home. “For the first time this season, we were really quick,” Félix da Costa said. “Second place is wonderful, and tomorrow, I already have the next chance to score a good result.”

BMW’s success is a historic one in the DTM: never before did a manufacturer succeed in locking out the first seven places. Mercedes-Benz had a clean sweep of the first six places at Hockenheim in 2001 and at Barcelona in 2007. Audi also scored a top six lock-out in the DTM, at Valencia in 2011. “Of course, such a success is sensational,” BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt says. “The track suits our car and the performance weights have contributed to this success, too. However, we have to be realistic: since the race at Norisring, the balance of power hasn’t changed as much as it looks. For the motivation of our team, today was very important.”

After seven races, Jamie Green remains on top of the drivers’ standings with 81 points from Mattias Ekström (70 points) and Pascal Wehrlein (68 points). After his first win of the season, Marco Wittmann has moved up to sixth behind Edoardo Mortara (58 points) and Robert Wickens (57 points). He now has 39 points.

The second race at Zandvoort gets underway on Sunday at 14:10 hrs (live on ARD). Prior to that, grid positions for the race will be determined in qualifying from 11:35 hrs.

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Markus Pommer takes his maiden win

Season race: 21 of 33
Track: Circuit Park Zandvoort
Winner: Markus Pommer (Motopark)
Pole position: Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin)
Weather: sunny

For Markus Pommer, the trip to Zandvoort in The Netherlands paid off: on Saturday, he scored his first-ever FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium finish at the 4.307 kilometres long ex-Formula 1 circuit; one day later, he scored his maiden victory. Thus, he also secured the first win for his team Motopark in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Behind the German, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) took the chequered flag in second and third place respectively. As Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing), who started the race as the points’ leader, only finished tenth, Giovinazzi took over first place in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings.

Markus Pommer already laid the foundation for his success at the start as he overtook pole-sitter Antonio Giovinazzi on the way to the first corner and took the lead. On lap three, Matt Solomon (Double R Racing) spun into the gravel trap and got stuck. In order for his car to be recovered, the safety car was deployed. Within two laps after the restart, a crash by Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) brought out the safety car once more.

Racing resumed on lap eleven, but this time, the youngsters from the FIA Formula 3 European Championship didn’t get much further either. Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Nicolas Pohler (Double R Racing) collided, which triggered the third safety car intervention. After the third restart, there were only three laps remaining, which Markus Pommer completed without any problems to drive his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship victory home.

Behind Pommer, Antonio Giovinazzi took second place from Felix Rosenqvist. Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam), the best-placed rookie Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), George Russell (Carlin), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark), Alexander Albon (Signature), Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) completed the top ten.

Markus Pommer (Motopark): “The start was key to this success. In the early stages of the race, my car was fast, but because we had opted for a relatively aggressive set-up, I was slightly concerned that my tyres could degrade too much. Therefore, I didn’t mind the three safety car interventions that much. Of course, it is great that I finally pulled off my first victory. When we started our preparation for our maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship season, we were over a second down on the fastest drivers. And now, we are all the way up front. My team Motopark has done a tremendous job and I am delighted to be a member of this team. For this weekend at Zandvoort, I also had the benefit of the data from Max Verstappen, who won the Masters of Formula 3 at the same venue with Motopark last year.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “Of course, I am really happy that I am now back in the lead of the drivers’ standings again. Prior to this weekend, I would never have thought that I would make up my gap to Charles Leclerc. In this race, Markus had a great start, which allowed him to take the lead. In the three restarts, I couldn’t overtake him either. He has done a good job and I congratulate him on this victory.”

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “Once again, I didn’t have the best of starts, which we now have to analyse. My car was good and I tried to be particularly aggressive during the restarts. Too bad that it was not enough to mount a challenge. Nevertheless, I am happy with my third place and my three podium results of this weekend.”