DTM

DTM season review – The series’ final year in its original format

Feature Image Credit: DTM Media

It has been a difficult year for everyone in the world. Despite not being able to start the season as planned and having to adapt to the current situation, the 2020 DTM season hasn’t been boring. In this season review, we have a look at what happened and who stood out.

First and foremost, a big thank you and respect to the whole DTM organisation and partners for coming up with a solution to allow the series to run during the Coronavirus pandemic. It hasn’t been an easy task for sure. At first, when the pandemic became a more serious issue, the pre-season test in Italy was cancelled. It then relocated to the Hockenheimring in Germany but was again cancelled. In June testing finally began at the Nurburgring in Germany and a completely new calendar was announced.

The season started off at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. The series last raced there back in 2005 and one driver of the 2020 grid participated in that race – Briton Jamie Green, who made his debut in the DTM that year. The Spa weekend was spread over two days instead of three. Dutchman Robin Frijns, in his third year in DTM, scored his maiden pole position in the series. Looking back, this was the beginning of a very successful year for him. The same thing can be said for his teammate Nico Mueller. The Swiss driver won the opening race, sharing a podium with Jamie Green and Loic Duval. After struggling with his tyres, Rene Rast only managed to finish fifth.

Image Credit: Audi Media Center

The second race of the season took place at the Lausitzring, on the Sprint layout of the track. It was the first double-header of the season – with another race at the same track one week later. However, this time on the Grand Prix version. During the first of two weekends, Mueller scored his third consecutive victory of the season – already showing quite a bit of dominance over the other drivers. Rast then scored his first win of the season in the Sunday race. That weekend also provided one of the most iconic moments of the season: the photo finish in the fourth race of the year. The gap between race winner Rast and Mueller was only 0.089 seconds!

BMW struggled compared to Audi but managed to score their first podium at the Lausitzring with South-African Sheldon van der Linde finishing second. The young van der Linde only made his debut in the series in 2019.

Moving on to the third race weekend of the year. Rast won again in front of Mueller and Frijns. At this point, it was already clear that the three of them had big chances of being favourites for the title. Rast was a two-time champion already, but, both Mueller and Frijns had never won it. At this point in the season, Audi Sport Team Abtline appeared to be stronger than Team Rosberg.

A surprise win in race six – after struggling in the first few races, BMW scored a double podium with Lucas Auer taking victory in front of Timo Glock and Robin Frijns. The race was decided by pitstop strategy. After the race, Auer commented: ‘I am still lost for words. I think that was the most intense race I have ever experienced in the DTM’, stating what a crazy race it was.

The fourth weekend took place at Assen, located in the Northern part of the Netherlands. The series made their debut at this track only last year. It’s a super-fast circuit, known mostly from MotoGP. Another special moment – for the very first time this year fans were welcomed at the track! Audi Sport Team Phoenix’ Loic Duval took pole position for the first time of the season. Though, in the race, another driver ended on top. Frijns scored his maiden DTM victory on home soil. ‘I had to wait almost three years for this moment. There really couldn’t have been a better place for my first DTM victory.’

The second race of the weekend was a crazy one. Very challenging conditions at the Dutch racetrack with heavy rain plus a red-flag period caused by a crash of WRT’s Fabio Scherer. A surprise winner once again – Van der Linde took his first victory in the series ahead of title contender Frijns and Mueller. In both races, two-time champion Rast only managed to finish fifth, losing out to his rivals. Later that season it appeared that this wasn’t the end for him though.

The season continued at the Nurburgring. Once again with two weekends in a row at the same circuit using two different layouts. All four races were won by the Abt Sportsline teammates. The first and fourth race by Mueller, second and third by Frijns. Rast finished second and third. Wittmann appeared on the podium for the second time this season. Mike Rockenfeller also scored a podium, finishing third in the tenth race of the season.

A lot of talks had been held for the past couple of months about DTM’s future. After Audi announced they would leave the series at the end of 2020, the future was not sure as BMW would have been the only manufacturer left. On Saturday evening of the Nurburgring weekend, the news came that the series would continue as a privateer-led GT Championship from 2021 onwards. Independent racing teams can enter the ‘new DTM’ with manufacturer support. Also, DTM boss Gerhard Berger will take over the organisation and economic matters of the series.

With three race weekends left, things suddenly changed in the standings. On the first of two race weekends at Zolder, Rast took victory ahead of Frijns and Mueller in race one. On Sunday, Rast won again but this time in front of Rockenfeller and Auer. Frijns suffered back luck when exiting the pits, crashing into the barriers which led to his first DNF of the season. Mueller only managed to finish ninth. The second weekend at Zolder, Rast was still on fire as he managed to win both races and put himself back in the mix for the title. Bad luck once again for Frijns who got involved in a crash right after the start. It was his second DNF in one week. Meaning, he headed into the final race weekend of the year with quite a big gap to Mueller and Rast.

The final race weekend of the season took place at the Hockenheimring, as usual. Rast and Mueller had to battle it out for the championship, with Frijns only having a tiny chance if both Rast and Mueller drivers had poor races. The Saturday race was won by Mueller, while the final race of the season was won by Rast. The two-time champion scored enough points to win the championship once again. Three DTM titles for Rast – who would have thought that when he entered the series back in 2017?

Overall, it has been an exciting season with great moments and battles. When you have a look at the statistics, Mueller was a little more consistent than Rast. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough to beat him, with 23 points separating the two. Frijns finished third in the championship, followed by Rockenfeller and best-placed BMW Glock. Completing the top ten are van der Linde, Duval, Green, Wittmann and Ferdinand Habsburg. Abt Sportsline won the Teams’ title and Audi Sport the manufacturers’ title. Even though BMW struggled, they still had some great moments and battles. It just wasn’t enough.

So, as said above, this was the final season DTM in its original format and with these beautiful and powerful cars. Next year we’ll see GT cars instead. We’re excited to see what the future will bring for the series. But for now – goodbye to the original DTM.

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