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Audi's Rockenfeller criticises Lawson for race-ending DTM crash

Audi's Mike Rockenfeller has criticised Red Bull’s Liam Lawson for the incident that eliminated him and championship leader Kelvin van der Linde from the second Nurburgring DTM race.

Kelvin van der Linde, Abt Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

Alexander Trienitz

After a chaotic second safety car restart, Lawson dived down the inside of van der Linde into the final chicane, sending the South African driver into the path of Abt Sportsline team-mate Rockenfeller.

The contact pitched Rockenfeller into a full 360-degree spin, while also forcing Lamborghini's Esteban Muth and Mercedes driver Arjun Maini to crawl to a halt to avoid the stricken Audi.

Both Abt drivers had to bring their cars to the pits shortly afterwards to retire from the race, while Lawson also suffered a DNF after being hit with a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the incident on live TV, Rockenfeller was critical of his AF Corse rival for attempting a move he felt wasn't really on, given how bunched up the field was going into the tight sequence of left-and-right turns before the final corner of the sprint layout.

Asked if he could have done anything to avoid contact with his teammate, Rockenfeller said: "Not really. If two cars crash into you, it's a bit difficult. 

"I think we had a really good race so far, we were fighting for P6, P5. With the BoP we had and the weight we had, it's the maximum we could have done so I was quite happy. 

"On the restart it's really wild, the level is getting down and down I have to say. For sure we struggled because we miss acceleration, but every time people take maximum risk and drive into you on each side. 

"Lawson in my opinion, the guy is really losing his mind. I don't know what he is smoking but he is so aggressive everywhere and in the end he took both of us out. 

"I have to see the picture but for Kelvin and myself we had it clear for the chicane and I think Lawson tried something you cannot try. But he will learn [from] it."

 

Van der Linde feels Lawson shouldn't have attempted a risky move after his race had already been severely compromised by a puncture from an earlier contact with Mercedes' Maximilian Gotz, which forced him to pit for a second time.

"The guy just turns us around once in qualifying and then again in the race," van der Linde told the official website of Sat.1. "I don't know what he wants. His race is screwed anyway. And then he comes driving across the meadow with three cars side by side.... I have no idea what he wants to do."

Lawson has exceeded expectations in his rookie season so far, scoring an inspired victory on his debut at Monza in June to complement his success in Formula 2.

The Kiwi was second in the championship coming into the weekend, behind Audi's van der Linde, but has slipped to fifth behind team-mate Alex Albon after a non-score at the Nurburgring.

Explaining his version of the events, Lawson told the official website of Sat.1: "I think I was behind Kelvin and I tried the maneuver because he left the door open.

"I couldn't see who was inside. When we got to the corner there were more cars, so we made contact.

"It wasn't on purpose, I just saw an opening and wanted to take advantage of it. It's pretty frustrating, not a good day for us and not for them either."

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