DTM: Jamie Green wins chaotic race for Mercedes at the Norisring
By Berthold Bouman
Jamie Green (Mercedes Team HWA) was the surprise victor of the fifth round of the German Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) Championship this afternoon on the Norisring. Another very big surprise this afternoon at the Norisring: not a scorching hot circuit like yesterday but heavy rain hit the street track just before the start of the race. Race control had no choice and declared it a wet race and all cars on the start grid had to hastily change to the Hankook wet weather tyres.
Teams were also allowed to change the setup of the car, and mechanics were frantically working to get the cars ready in time. All yesterday’s set-up work went literally down the drain, but at least the conditions were the same for all 22 drivers.
It became a bit dryer after the warm-up lap but conditions were still very slippery. Pole sitter Gary Paffett (Mercedes Team HWA) was initially away first but he got involved in the inevitable melee on the run down to the first chicane, his car was turned around by team colleague Green behind him, who in his turn got a push from Mattias Ekstrom (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline). The Swede badly damaged his car and had to retire after the first lap.
Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes Team HWA) was the main beneficiary of the crash at the first chicane, when the safety car left the track again a few laps later he was in leading position, followed by Martin Tomczyk (BMW Team RMG), Bruno Spengler (BMW Team Schnitzer), Green, Christian Vietoris (Mercedes Team HWA) and rookie Adrien Tambay (Audi Sport Team Abt). Meanwhile Ekstrom made an appearance on camera and blamed Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RBM) for the crash. Race control did not agree with the Swede as no driver was penalized for the start accident.
Tomczyk soon started to hunt down Schumacher while Timo Scheider (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline) had huge problems keeping his badly damaged car on track. Paffett’s car looked undamaged, but the unfortunate Briton was in 16th place fighting Edoardo Mortara (Audi Sport Team Rosberg), who also had a damaged car and was not able to defend his position and soon lost it to Paffett.
The top-three, Schumacher, Tomczyk and Spengler soon started to build up a gap to the numbers four to six, Green, Vietoris and Mike Rockenfeller (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing). Paffett meanwhile, had no problems overtaking the damaged Audi of Scheider and after 15 laps was in 14th position, now chasing Miguel Molina (Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing).
Not much later Farfus turned into the pit lane and parked his BMW in the garage, his race was also over as he too had a lot of damage, and according to the Brazilian, the damage was caused by Schumacher who hit him from behind. Not much later leader Schumacher ran into problems, his car slowed down due to electrical problems, but he managed to get it going again but fell back to fourth position in the process, much to the delight of Tomczyk, who took over the lead.
Molina couldn’t keep Paffett at bay and the latter took 13th position. Susie Wolff (Mercedes Persson Motorsport) also had problems on the slippery track and after a spin fell back to 20th and last place, but later also had to park her car in the garage. Tambay was rewarded a drive-through penalty as he was the one who hit the car of Wolff and thus caused her spin.
Roberto Merhi (Mercedes Persson Motorsport) did exactly what his pit crew told him to do, and let Paffett past, who during the same move also squeezed past Albuquerque and was then, after 24 laps, in tenth place. American Joey Hand (BMW Team RMG) was the one to make the first pit stop of the day and was followed by Scheider who was still struggling with his damaged car.
Both Mercedes Team Mucke drivers David Coulthard and Robert Wickens did a great job and were in seventh and eighth position respectively. The rain started to fall down even harder and made the circuit even more treacherous, but it didn’t seem to bother Paffett as he continued his march to the front of the field and passed Molina to take ninth place.
Green was the first of the top six to pit, and rejoined the race in eighth place, with Paffett ahead of him. Next to pit was Tomczyk who rejoined in fifth place. Spengler followed him and after a very fast stop rejoined the race behind Tomczyk. The big question was of course: could BMW keep the lead of the race? At the time Schumacher was again leading the race, while Paffett was now second, but both still had to make their first stop.
At the same time Hand was attacking Merhi who frantically defended his position, the pair collided multiple times, but Hand nevertheless took 15th place. Schumacher made his stop and rejoined in sixth place, but his electrical problems were not over yet and as a result he lost another three positions. Not much later he had to give up his race altogether and parked his car in the Mercedes garage.
With 48 laps on the counter Paffett was now leading and was followed by Tomczyk, Spengler, Green, Vietoris and Wickens, who had passed his team colleague Coulthard. Paffett was obviously building up a gap to ensure he wouldn’t lose too much ground during his first stop. Another six laps later and others were ready to make their second and last mandatory stop, Green was the first to do so and rejoined in ninth position.
Paffett finally got the call to pit for the first time on lap 56, and he rejoined the race in third place right behind Vietoris, who was also told to let the Briton past. Vietoris then pitted himself, and went out on slicks to see if he would be faster. Another surprise: just six laps after his first stop, Paffett pitted again and this time rejoined in sixth place.
During the second round of stops, the BMW battle between Tomczyk and Spengler was won by Tomczyk. Thus the order was: Tomczyk, Spengler, Green, Paffett, Vietoris and Coulthard was in a very good sixth position. The Scott was now chasing Vietoris on his slick tyres, Vietoris ran wide at the first chicane and Coulthard took fifth place from him.
But the track started to dry and drivers were seen cooling their wet tyres off the line on the wet patches of the Norisring. Dry or wet, Spengler started to reel in Tomczyk, while Green in third place also started to gain on Spengler.
The countdown now started as it was clear the 82 laps marker would not be reached under these wet conditions and with only two and a half minutes on the stopwatch Green made his first attack on the BMW of Spengler. Green passed Spengler at the second chicane, but it wasn’t over yet, Green then attacked Tomczyk on the very last lap at the first chicane, outbraked him and went on to win the race, spoiling the party for BMW who still finished in second and third position.
Of course Green was delighted with his win, “My tyres were giving excellent grip on the last ten laps and my pace was very strong. My Mercedes was running superbly, and I was grinning from ear to ear on those last few laps. At the end of an amazingly exciting race, I capped it all off by overtaking Bruno Spengler and Martin Tomczyk. I am absolutely delighted about this win!”
Second and third place is still a good result, and BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said, “I am very happy with our first outing at the Norisring for 20 years. Despite extremely difficult conditions, we had two drivers on the podium and four cars in the points this time.”
And he added, “We would obviously have liked to celebrate our second win this year with Martin Tomczyk – especially in this unique atmosphere – but that is just how it goes sometimes in motor racing. Jamie Green was simply quicker in the closing stages.”
After five races Paffett is still leading the championship with 95 points, followed by Green who has 69 points, and Bruno Spengler is third with 58 points. In two weeks time fans can enjoy the annual DTM show event at the Munich Olympic Stadium, but the next real race is on the Nurburgring on August 19.