Bernd Schneider rain man in the Eifel
In what was the most thrilling DTM race of the year, the weather in the Eifel turned the seventh season round of the DTM at the Nürburgring into a turbulent tire lottery. Outstanding man of the day was the eldest driver in the field, Bernd Schneider. The 44-year old DTM record champion used all his experience and after 156.047 kilometers, he drove his AMG Mercedes C-Class across the finish line as the delighted winner.
“A great race with a good ending for me. Tonight, one round is on me”, the winner said. For Schneider, it was the 43rd DTM race win in his career. After a great recovery in the last couple of laps, his fellow Mercedes driver, Scotsman Paul di Resta, secured himself second place. The quadruple success for Mercedes-Benz was completed by British drivers Jamie Green and Gary Paffett, the latter being the best-placed driver with a year-old car in fourth place. Points’ leader Timo Scheider became the best Audi driver of the day. He remains in the lead of the points’ standings with a margin of four points over Green. DTM novice Ralf Schumacher scored his first championship point in a DTM race by finishing an excellent eighth.
Paffett finished best placed driver of an one year old car. The race started with a bang. Based on the internal weather forecast, all Audis started into the formation lap with rain tires. The opposition from Mercedes-Benz was entirely on slicks. Initially, the actual weather situation didn’t confirm the forecast and the Audi team management decided to call points’ leader Scheider, Mattias Ekström and Markus Winkelhock into the pits at the end of the formation lap, have their tires changed and have them starting from the pit lane. After a very good start from second on the grid, Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller overtook his fellow Audi driver Tom Kristensen from Denmark and took the lead.
However, it soon became clear that the other Audi drivers with rain tires didn’t have a chance against the Mercedes-Benz drivers with slicks. After more stops from Audi, there were seven Mercedes-Benz on the first seven places on the second lap already. Over and over again, light drizzle made conditions at the track very difficult. There were fascinating door-to-door fights and overtaking maneuvers throughout the 19 car strong field. Schneider benefited from an optimal pit stop strategy and took the lead during the pit stop on lap 21 from di Resta, who had been leading the field up to that time. Shortly before the end of the race, the rain became stronger. While a major part of the drivers changed tires once again, Schneider completed the race with slicks. Di Resta had his tires changed and benefited from this advantage in his recovery, overtaking Ekström, Paffett and Green. However, he couldn’t catch Schneider and the 22-year old had to make do with second place.
Reigning DTM champion Ekström lost his fifth place on the final lap to his team-mate Scheider. The Swede still scored three points for the championship by finishing sixth. He is now third behind Scheider and Green. Canadian Bruno Spengler (Mercedes-Benz) finished seventh. Ralf Schumacher scored his first point in the DTM in eighth place.
Scheider overtook Ekström in the final round. In the points’ standings of the DTM, Scheider is leading with 44 points from Green (40) and Ekström (38). The eighth DTM round of the season will be taking place at Brands Hatch (GB) on August 31st.
Bernd Schneider (winner, Original-Teile AMG Mercedes): “A great race with a good ending for me. Thanks to my engineer who decided to let me start with slicks, although I actually wanted to have rain tires on. My car was really great and two perfect pit stops of my mechanics allowed me to make up at least two places. Thanks guys, tonight, one round is on me.“
Paul di Resta (2nd place, AMG Mercedes): “Today, we have made the right tire choice. I led for most of the race and therefore, I had the biggest risk. As the race leader, I couldn’t orientate by the cars in front of me in these conditions. Bernd could get past me due to a mistake during the pit stop. When the rain became stronger towards the end, we decided to change to rain tires. With one lap more in the race, that could have been victory.”
Jamie Green (3rd place, Salzgitter AMG Mercedes): “I didn’t expect to make it onto the podium from 13th place on the grid. It was a difficult race, but with the right tire choice, I was able to make it onto the podium. Towards the end, it was quite close again as the rain became quite strong.”
Timo Scheider (5th place, Audi Sport Team Abt): “A disappointing weekend. After my ninth grid position, I knew that it would be difficult today. Still finishing fifth with four pit stops is at least a way of limiting the damage. I have been fighting like a bull, but that was all I could do today.”
Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug: “It was a great race, which is very good for the series. The field was very well balanced and the year-old cars were in good positions, too. Ralf has scored his first point. That was a good performance from him, especially in this weather. Great, that somebody like Bernd Schneider as our “rainman” can still win. That was his race and it was great.”
Audi motorsport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “You don’t have a lot of time for this tire decision process. Once the decision has been made, you have to stick with it. After that, it was only a matter of keeping the damage limited. Later on, we tried to keep the speed as consistent as possible. Towards the end, the field came together again because of the rain and there was some more good action. Even though the result wasn’t optimal for us, I am happy that the spectators got to see a great race.”
||Paul di Resta
Fastest lap, Tomczyk 1:24.484 on lap 25