Maro Engel’s victory on Sunday was a monumental surprise
2017 is Maro Engel’s fifth season in the DTM and up until Sunday his best result was a solitary sixth place back in 2009. He started Sunday’s race from second last after a mistake in qualifying so there was nothing to suggest he would be fighting for victory. However, Engel made a pitstop at the end of lap one and when most of the field was subsequently delayed by the Safety Car he was given a very surprising (and lucky) shot at the win.
Timo Glock and Mattias Ekstrom renewed their feud at the same circuit
Two years ago at Moscow raceway a high-speed collision between Timo Glock and Mattias Ekstrom took both drivers out of the race. Glock had plenty to say at the time, telling Ekstrom on social media to “watch the race from Wehrlein and learn you Idiot! How stupid you need to be to overtake in that corner!”
Fast forward to 2017 at the same circuit and the pair managed to collide again during Saturday’s race. This time it was Eksrtom with some choice words, jokingly telling Motorsport.com “What happened in Turn 3 was just Timo running out of talent and making a mistake… the day when he is championship contender, I will also run out of talent.” He later added “You know, what goes around comes around. I’m not angry with him, everybody here tries to do the best they can, score as many points as they can, but I think, it’s just like I said, what goes around comes around.”
Audi’s tactics drew criticism from BMW and Mercedes
When an early Safety Car hurt Mattias Ekstrom’s chances of victory on Sunday, Audi came up with an alternative strategy to keep him in the hunt. The team had one of their other drivers, Nico Muller, stay out during the pitstop cycle so he could take the lead when everyone else made their mandatory stop. From the lead Muller could back up the field into Ekstrom who was then able to regain 20 seconds in 20 laps.
Despite a long history of team tactics in the DTM, Audi’s rivals weren’t impressed. BMW Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt, stated “this is not the kind of racing we really want to see, this is nothing for the fans” whilst Ulrich Fritz from Mercedes said “we have to ask the question if we want to play chess or if we want to go racing….I don’t really get it, I have to say.”
Audi claimed a late pitstop had always been their strategy, and Nico Muller himself said “They had DRS, I didn’t and they didn’t manage to get past on such a long straight. They first have to sort their stuff out and then we can talk.”