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DTM 'shouldn't be a bumper cars' race, say drivers and team bosses

The driving standards in the DTM have come under fire after a wild race at the Nurburgring that was marred by several on-track collisions and two safety car periods.

Maximilian Buhk, Mücke Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 after the crash

Alexander Trienitz

Amid an expanded field of 23 cars, nine drivers retired from Sunday's second race at the former German Grand Prix venue, with seven of those DNFs directly a consequence of on-track collisions.

The first safety car was deployed at the end of lap 1 when GetSpeed driver Arjun Maini forced the Mercedes of Maximilian Buhk into the pitwall, copping a 30-second penalty for his "dangerous manoeuvre."

There was more drama at the second restart, with Maximilian Gotz pushing the Porsche of Michael Ammermuller into a spin, and Philip Ellis and guest driver Luca Stolz involved in an all-Mercedes crash.

Later in the lap, Red Bull's Liam Lawson triggered an incident that took out the Abt Sportsline Audis of Mike Rockenfeller and points leader Kelvin van der Linde, prompting heavy criticism on live television from the 2013 champion.

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

"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. "

Abt team boss Thomas Biermaier backed the views of his driver, saying: "We want to see tough duels, but the DTM should not become a bumper car."

Winward Mercedes boss Christian Hohenadel was also unimpressed after his driver Ellis was forced wide at Turn 8 on the opening lap, saying some drivers crossed the boundaries at the Nurburgring when it came to wheel-to-wheel racing.

"I have to say that the drivers acted very wildly and undisciplined at times," he said. "We all love hard racing, but on Sunday it was certainly a bit too much."

 

 

 

GruppeM Mercedes driver Daniel Juncadella was able to avoid the chaos to finish second behind race winner Alex Albon, but lashed out at guest driver Markus Winkelhock for his overly-defensive skills in Sunday's race. 

"I was quite shocked with Winkelhock this weekend," said the Spaniard. "I made a move on him at the second restart. I was on a very fresh tyre and he was not and his race was basically over. 

"He's a guest starter and I think I did a really good move but he just kept turning on me and smashing my car, which I was very annoyed about and it nearly cost me my race. 

"It was pretty close, it could have easily been a puncture on the front-left. I felt like something had broken in the car actually but in the end it didn't. 

"I like the hard racing and I'm not going to complain about it, but I think he was a bit overexcited this weekend."

Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann believes the nature of the Nurburgring sprint circuit played a major role in drivers attempting some opportunistic overtakes, but wasn't concerned by the racing being "wild and dirty at some stages".

"The second restart of the race was very chaotic, I have to say," said the Walkenhorst BMW driver. 

"We came from P13 and the cars in front hadn't stopped yet, they were on old tyres and it was quite a mess there. 

"I think we went five cars wide at Turn 1 [and I] was just hoping to survive and not crash the car.

"I think the track layout at the Nurburgring invites a bit, especially at the restart. Turn 1 is very tight and Turn 2 invites [drivers to take] many different lines and approaches, and you can [run] side by side for multiple corners. 

"I think at Zolder or at some other tracks it's not really the case. And then the field gets spread a bit after two-three corners, so I think it's also a bit dependent on track layout which made it a bit wild and dirty at some stages. 

"But obviously as long as it stays fair and we have some contact here and there, side contacts, that's what DTM is, that's what touring car sport is, and obviously it's nice for the fans."

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