Hockenheim DTM: Muller fends off Rast to set up showdown

Rachit Thukral
·4-min read

Title contenders Muller and Rast were engaged in a race-long battle at the German venue, the two trading places several times as two safety car periods added an extra element to the championship fight.

Muller eventually held off Rast in a tense finish to win by 0.6 seconds, ensuring he remains only 13 points behind the German with 28 still available on Sunday.

At the start of the race, Muller made a stronger launch than polesitter Rast and made a lunge into Turn 1, the two title protagonists banging wheels as Rast was forced well off track.

Muller emerged in the lead, but the race was soon neutralised for a collision between BMW’s Marco Wittmann and WRT Audi’s Harrison Newey that sent both drivers into retirement.

Muller made a perfect restart to build a 0.6s buffer in one lap, only for Rast to close the gap and attempt a move around the outside of the hairpin on the following tour.

While that attempt proved unsuccessful, Rast got a much better run coming out of Turn 5 the next time around and he breezed past Muller to return to the front.

Muller launched a counterattack and tried to repass Rast twice at the hairpin, but the Team Rosberg driver managed to rebuff each of his attempts to maintain the status quo.

When the pitstops began, Muller was the first to head to the pitlane on lap 17, with Rast following in on the next lap.

The undercut worked for Muller, with Rast dropping not only behind him but also the Audis of Robin Frijns and Jamie Green.

However, with the advantage that Rast had, he swiftly cleared Muller’s teammate Frijns before passing his own teammate Green with relative ease on lap 22.

By that time Muller had stretched a four-second buffer out front, but Rast managed to wipe out his title rival’s advantage in short order, and was on his tail by lap 27.

On the following tour, Rast replicated the same move he had pulled off on Muller early in the race, passing the Abt Audi driver well before the hairpin to snatch the lead.

At this point it appeared that Rast had done enough to take victory, but a retirement for BMW’s Timo Glock brought out a late safety car, throwing a spanner in the works.

After Glock’s car was retrieved, the race resumed for a handful of laps, with Muller right on the tail of Rast and with Green not far behind in third.

Assisted with DRS and push-to-pass, Muller dived around the outside of Rast heading into the hairpin and, although he overshot the corner, he did enough to take the lead.

Rast put intense pressure on Muller in the closing stages of the race, but the Swiss driver did enough to hold on to take the victory, taking the title battle to Sunday’s finale.

Green finished just behind the title rivals in third, returning to the podium for the first time since the season opener at Spa. Loic Duval finished nearly five seconds behind in fourth, with his Phoenix teammate Mike Rockenfeller making it an all-Audi top five.

Jonathan Aberdein was classified as the top BMW driver in sixth, ahead of Audi’s Robin Frijns, who is now mathematically out of the title fight.

Robert Kubica was sandwiched by Wittmann and Kubica at the start, but avoided damage in his ART-run BMW to finish eighth and secure his third points finish of the season.

BMW duo Philipp Eng and Sheldon van der Linde rounded out the top 10, the latter slipping down the order after contending for the final podium position at one stage.

Race results:

1

Switzerland
Switzerland

Nico Müller

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

2

Germany
Germany

René Rast

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

0.622

3

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Jamie Green

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

1.033

4

France
France

Loic Duval

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

4.960

5

Germany
Germany

Mike Rockenfeller

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

6.311

6

South Africa
South Africa

Jonathan Aberdein

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

6.580

7

Netherlands
Netherlands

Robin Frijns

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

6.727

8

Poland
Poland

Robert Kubica

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

8.668

9

Austria
Austria

Philipp Eng

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

9.025

10

South Africa
South Africa

Sheldon Van Der Linde

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

11.056

11

Austria
Austria

Ferdinand Habsburg

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

12.646

12

Austria
Austria

Lucas Auer

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

15.244

13

Switzerland
Switzerland

Fabio Scherer

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

5 Laps

14

Germany
Germany

Timo Glock

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

9 Laps

15

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Harrison Newey

Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020

16

Germany
Germany

Marco Wittmann

BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020

View full results