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DTM Zandvoort

How Auer suffered DTM race-ending damage even before the start line

Factory Mercedes driver Lucas Auer was forced to retire from Sunday’s DTM race at Zandvoort due to a multi-car incident that took place even before the start line.

As is sometimes the case with rolling starts, there was a short time difference between when each driver hit the accelerator as the lights went green at the Dutch venue. This caused chaos in the midpack, with Winward’s Auer coming off worse as his Mercedes sustained damage to its radiator and a loose bonnet. 

Video material presented by the stewards revealed that Auer, who had qualified 15th, hit the back of Luca Engstler’s Audi while the race hadn’t even effectively started for the Austrian. 

This led to a concertina effect, with Auer subsequently being rammed from behind by the BMW of Sheldon van der Linde, who had started just behind him in 17th place.

Auer brought the car back to the Winward garage at the end of the opening lap, bringing an early end to his weekend.

Speaking afterwards, the Austrian said: "We had contact at the start, so unfortunately the race ended prematurely for me. Nevertheless, we can take a lot from this weekend and are now concentrating on the Norisring.

“Sunday's qualifying was difficult. That's why we started in the middle of the field. We have to work hard now to be further up the grid, then I'm confident for the next races."

Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD

Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

The official document by the stewards only referred to contact between Auer and van der Linde, and held the former responsible for the collision.

However, no penalty was dished out to Auer, while both van der Linde and Engstler escaped the incident without any serious damage.

"The stewards have found evidence of contact between car #22 [Auer] and car #1 [van der Linde]," the official's ruling stated.

"They have decided that the driver of car #22 is mainly to blame, but has punished himself by retiring from the race after the contact."

Auer, who finished second in the championship last year behind title winner van der Linde, has slipped to 15th in the standings after Zandvoort following his second non-score in four races.

Auer had finished 16th and 10th in the season opener at Oschersleben, where all Mercedes cars struggled for performance. A charging drive from 12th on the grid to sixth in the opening race at Zandvoort raised some hopes, but a poor qualifying session on Sunday left him firmly in the midfield and in an incident-prone zone for the second race of the weekend.

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