In the first race of the 2021 season and also the first in the GT3 era, Liam Lawson claimed victory in his Red Bull AF Corse. Therefore, he beat the dominant Mercedes duo and kept Vincent Abril and Maximilian Gotz behind.
There could not have been a more iconic start to the new season than this one. Liam Lawson, a rookie in DTM, won the race after starting from seventh on the grid. Afterwards he told the media that this was a dream coming true, having raced in DTM’s support program in the past. A good start, plus earning two positions early on in the race by overtaking Esteban Muth into Turn 1 and gaining a position when Philip Ellis parked his car. Then, he made his mandatory pitstop relatively early on, being triggered by Nico Mueller, Mike Rockenfeller and Esmee Hawkey who made their stops at the end of the fifth lap. Lawson pitted on lap 9.
Having made his pitstop early on, allowed the New Zealander to come out in clean air with fresh tyres. On lap 11 Lawson’s biggest rival, polesitter Abril made his stop. However, he did not have the same pace as Lawson and therefore lost the virtual lead to the Red Bull AF Corse driver. From this moment on, Lawson drove a perfect race not making any mistakes. Abril did close the gap a bit, but it wasn’t enough. Lawson crossed the line in first place. A special way to start the season in Ferrari’s comeback to the series.
Mercedes, who already showed strong pace on Friday and in this morning’s qualifying, still managed to take a double podium. Abril second ahead of Gotz in third. The second Ferrari, driven by Alexander Albon managed to finish fourth after starting from 14th on the grid. An impressive result for the ex-Formula One driver. After his pitstop he got overtaken by Nico Mueller and Kelvin van der Linde. Though, Albon managed to repass both of them and then defend from Daniel Juncadella. Spanish Gruppe M driver Juncadella finished fifth ahead of van der Linde.
Maximilian Buhk, who replaces the absent Gary Paffet drove the longest without pitting, only making his mandatory stop on lap 23. He managed to cross the line in seventh ahead of last year’s runner-up Mueller. The Swiss Audi Team Rosberg driver did not have an easy race. First he lost his mirror while battling, and was later send into a spin going into the second chicane while fighting with Juncadella. He could continue and recovered to finish eighth. Rounding out the top ten are BMW’s Marco Wittmann and Audi Abt Sportsline’ Mike Rockenfeller. After an impressive qualifying result, rookie Muth finished just outside the top 10.
Mercedes team HTP Winward suffered in today’s race with Ellis’ early retirement. Then, later on in the race the mechanics struggled with Lucas Auer’s pitstop, which resulting in a DNF and a 13th place. Dev Gore from Audi Team Rosberg was the second DNF after contact early on in the race with BMW’s Timo Glock. Esmee Hawkey and Sophia Floersch finished 15th and 16th.
We’re back tomorrow with another qualifying and race. Quali starts at 10.10 local time (09.10 UK time). The second race of the weekend at 13.30 local time (12.30 UK time).