Rene Rast just keeps on going and wins the penultimate race of the 2019 season. Marco Wittmann finishes second after battling with Rast, Jenson Button finishes ninth.
A great start for Rene Rast helped cement a great result for the Audi driver. Marco Wittmann and Mike Rockenfeller also started well in second and third. Though it didn’t take long for Rockenfeller to make the move on Wittmann. After seven laps the gap between Rast and Rockenfeller was just over a second. From then on, Rast had a comfortable lead in the first half of the race.
The first driver who came in for his mandatory stop was Timo Glock on lap 10 – probably earlier than planned, as he was forced to pit when his left-side door came loose. Five laps later, Rockenfeller was the first of the top three to pit for fresh tyres. And, shortly after Wittmann and Rast came in as well. At the time Rast was in the pits, BMW’s Philipp Eng parked his car behind the barriers in the long Parabolika turn bringing out the safety car.
The safety car cancelled out any advantage Wittmann had over Rast, despite a slow pit-stop for the current champion. And at the restart, Rast kept the lead. When the pack entered turn eight, the Mercedes Arena, the two WRT drivers collided. As a result of this, Pietro Fittipaldi received a drive-through penalty. The pair eventually finished 14th and 15th.
In the second half of the race, after the restart, Wittmann was able to close the gap to Rast and a great battle began. On lap 25, the BMW driver managed to pass Rast in the hairpin. But it didn’t last long, as on the next lap Rast regained the lead. From then on, he maintained a small gap ahead of Wittmann, enough to comfortably take the chequered flag. With today’s victory, his seventh of the season, Rast has scored enough points for his Team Rosberg to clinch the teams’ championship.
“Winning is always a special moment, and securing the teams’ title is the icing on the cake. I’m really happy for the whole team,” the champion said. “Claiming victory was not as easy as it might have looked from the outside: Marco really had a good first stint and applied a lot of pressure.”
Mike Rockenfeller, who started from third on the grid, crossed the line in the same position taking the final podium spot. He has been quite unlucky this year with three DNF’s in Hockenheim, Norisring and his home soil the Nurburgring. But, he also secured a victory at Assen. He now sits fourth in the championship, followed closely by Robin Frijns – who finished fourth this afternoon.
Loic Duval and Glock crossed the line in fifth and sixth. Paul di Resta was the best-placed Aston Martin today in seventh. Though his teammates didn’t share in his good fortune. Jake Dennis was running inside the top ten for the majority of the race but dropped back a little after his pitstop. “The first half of the race was going quite well. We got up to P8, so it was looking good. The pitstop was good as well,” the Briton said. “On the second stint, I really struggled with the front tyre deg, I had massive understeer. We never really had that on the first stint. I was a bit of a passenger, couldn’t do much. Then, unfortunately, we dropped back to P11. A bit of a shame.”
Jenson Button, who surprised himself and others with sixth place in qualifying this morning, lost one position at the start to Timo Glock. SUPER GT drivers aren’t used to standing starts, so that’s something he and the other two teams had to adapt to. Unfortunately for the Brit, he suffered a slow pitstop and dropped back to 16th. The ex-Formula 1 champion fought back and eventually finished ninth. He doesn’t receive the two points, as the three SUPER GT drivers aren’t eligible to score points.
Bruno Spengler and Joel Eriksson finished eighth and tenth, though Eriksson will receive two points instead of one. Dennis who finished just outside the top ten still receives the final point. Nico Mueller was running well in the top five in the early stages of the race but he was really unlucky with the stoppage of Eng. As he pitted when the Safety Car was on track, his stop didn’t count as a mandatory one. So, he had to pit again on lap 33. When he re-joined the pack, he also received a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. In the end, he finished 17th.
Sheldon van der Linde also had to serve a drive-through in the final few laps of the race. The race director had already warned him a few times for ‘forcing a driver to leave the track’. Besides Eng, Daniel Juncadella was forced to retire his car as well halfway the race due to issues on the car. His Aston Martin teammate Ferdinand Habsburg couldn’t even start today’s race because of engine issues. The team is hoping to fix the problems for tomorrow so that they can finish their first season in the series on a positive note.
The other two guests from Japan were less fortunate. Tsugio Matsuda in his Nissan failed to start the formation lap and was being pushed back to his garage. On lap 17, he returned to the track and finished 18th. Ryo Hirakawa started from 20th on the grid. He pitted on the first lap, which meant he had to stop a second time later in the race. In the end, he crossed the line in 13th.
We’re all set for the final race of the 2019 season, starting tomorrow afternoon at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time) and qualifying earlier that day at 10.35 local time (09.35 UK time). All championships have been decided. However, Mueller and Wittmann are still battling for second place in the championship. The point difference between the pair is 21 points. It’s not going to be easy for Wittmann, but he still has a chance.