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DTM: Favourite-check

20 September 2016

What is speaking for Wittmann and his rivals?

“Things are looking good but there still is a long way to go.” An only too well-known phrase used by title favourites after having opened a gap on the competition – no matter what sport. And that’s what Marco Wittmann also said after the two Nürburgring rounds when asked about his title chances. And this also applied to Pascal Wehrlein who had succeeded in opening a crucial gap on his rivals in the battle for the title in the penultimate race weekend of the 2015 season – once again at the Nürburgring. Like Wehrlein last year, Wittmann also left the Eifel as the clear winner in the title chase – but other than the reigning champion, he still has four more races to contest. There still are 100 points to be scored, this season and so, Wittmann’s 33-point lead seems to be comfortable – and really is if you compare the season of the four remaining title rivals so far.

Paul Di Resta (70 points behind), Tom Blomqvist (-77), Mattias Ekström (-88), Nico Müller (-92), Maxime Martin (-94) and Gary Paffett (-97) also still theoretically could win the title but the chances of Jamie Green (-51), Robert Wickens (-50) and Edoardo Mortara (-33) are far more realistic.

Marco Wittmann: Apart from his 33-point lead, there first of all are another three factors speaking for the BMW driver: his consistency – in 14 races, Wittmann failed to score only twice: in the season opener at Hockenheim and in the Saturday race at the Moscow Raceway. In the season so far, Wittmann’s average result was sixth place (precisely 5.8), a value he achieved by winning three races, securing another two podiums and finishing fourth, three times. His BMW M4 DTM: not other driver racing for the Munich based manufacturer seems to have his car under control as Wittmann does. No matter in which condition a session or race is contested, Wittmann virtually always is one of the best BMW drivers and often even is the fastest. Compared to Mercedes, BMW will enjoy a weight advantage at least in the first qualifying session at Budapest what increases Wittmann’s chances of securing a good position on the grid. Furthermore, the German already demonstrated that the Hungaroring suits him well. In 2014, he won the race in Hungary, thus scoring crucial points on his way to securing the title. Should he deliver in a similarly superior style one may expect him to leave the circuit with a lead of more than 50 points – and the title already won.

Edoardo Mortara: The Audi driver was a factor in the battle for the title throughout the 2015 season and made another step forward, this year. Mortara really went for it in nearly every race of the season and was ready to take any necessary risk. For instance in the torrential rain of Moscow where he succeeded in working his way up from his 12th position on the grid to seventh within just a few laps despite the extremely poor visibility. And in spite of quite a number of courageous overtaking manoeuvres Mortara made nearly no mistakes. Only in the Sunday race at Spielberg, in the battle for third position, he committed a revenge-foul against António Félix da Costa. A manoeuvre that cost him a lot of valuable points. Nonetheless, the Swiss-Italian displayed a consistency similar to the one of Marco Wittmann – and on the weekend at the Eifel circuit he gained an additional plus: Mortara opened a clear gap on his fellow Audi driver Jamie Green in the brand-internal battle and so, he arguably can rely on the full support of the other Audi drivers, in the races to come. Furthermore, the final two circuits on the calendar seem to suit him well. At Budapest he finished fourth, in 2014, and in four of the six previous races at the Hockenheimring he made it to the top four – and even won the season opener.

Robert Wickens: Up to the Nürburgring, the Canadian delivered in particularly brilliant style in the qualifying sessions and more often than not, he used his good positions on the grid for scoring a lot of points. In the closing stages of the season, however, Wickens seems to slightly lose the momentum. After his win in the Saturday race at Moscow, he added just another 12 points to his tally. At the Nürburgring he had to cope with a massive dose of bad luck while fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Auer set amazing lap times, thus making Wickens’ car heavier and heavier. The enormous amount of performance weight aboard his Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM won’t make Wickens’ task in the coming qualifying sessions easier and in addition, the Stuttgarters didn’t do well in 2014 at the Hungaroring, with Wickens in 11th position having been the best Mercedes driver. Should he score just one point less in Hungary than Wittmann, his hopes of winning the 2016 DTM title are over.

Jamie Green: For Jamie Green, the die apparently was cast on the Nürburgring weekend – to the disadvantage of him. The moment when he crashed – after his pit stop – into the side of Gary Paffett’s car and received a drive-thru penalty, thus losing his chances of scoring points, arguably was the moment that made an end to his title dreams. Since this race, the Briton has not only to cope with a 51-point gap to the leader but also with the fact that there is a better-placed fellow Audi driver. Should there be a close situation between Green and Mortara, in the final four races, Green arguably will have to let Mortara go ahead.

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