After one late-season round, one DTM driver told Autosport that BMW was operating in a "what Marco wants, Marco gets" style. You could debate its favouritism, but remove emotion and cold, hard logic suggests it was the right thing to do.
The BMW M4 DTM was a constant headache for its drivers in 2019, at times unreliable and often difficult to get into an operating window in which it could be a consistent match for Audi. Worryingly, BMW’s promising start slipped and it ran even further off Audi’s pace. Unless it was Wittmann driving.
Of the six BMW wins from 18 races, Wittmann took four of them. He kept the DTM title race alive until September's Nurburgring round, even if he was on the absolute fringe of contention. Four pole positions in a car that was often second-best also underlined his raw speed. There was an admittance from BMW that the M4 DTM seemed to work best for Wittmann and stablemate Philipp Eng's driving style, but even the impressive Eng was beaten 4-1 on victories and 4-1 on pole positions.
But look away from numbers and it was often Wittmann's mentality that impressed. The mantra "today's setback is tomorrow's comeback" might sound cheesy, but it worked for him. His home round at the Norisring was a disaster after retirement and a poor strategy call respectively in the two races, but he bounced back next time out at Assen to score 46 points, more than anyone else there, and put himself firmly back in contention.
If BMW can rectify its poor 2019 season - an internal review is ongoing - Wittmann should be Rene Rast's biggest threat in '20.
BMW lost the title at the Lausitzring, you've had time to reflect now...
I think we lost the title already at Brands [Hatch, in August] when we introduced new engines and didn’t score any points at all for most of our guys. Lausitzring you have to say was definitely a low point of the season. Looking at the package and looking at trying to extract the optimum of the package - we definitely didn’t manage it at Lausitzring. We didn’t manage qualifying and the races, which were also not optimum. It was something where we said for here we need to get the maximum out of our package and not just on one side, but on more people.
Where did you lack to Audi this year?
I think if you look at the overall season and how the weekends developed, for sure, there is small differences in the packages, that’s clear. Also, throughout the year, you have to say we had to do adjustments to make the package more durable that basically diverted from our initial package and made it more difficult to find the optimum. This is what we need to get back to over the winter, that we take all the reliability measures and bring our package as a standard back to where it should be.
We’ve added weight on parts and that for sure, for example, didn’t help the optimum weight distribution of the car. This is something that through the season, you have to find something that works quickly, which means you normally overdo it because you don’t want to have a second or third loop [of fixes].
How can you make changes for 2020?
We are getting better ideas although I have to say we have to be careful not to expend too much energy because with everything we’ve done over the season to cure reliability problems - and there still are some, we’ve seen this - we need to bring it back to an optimum package over the winter. We need to be careful because the package for next year will have some adjustments compared to this year because the quick fixes [in 2019] have to turn into optimum long-term fixes. So, some of the parts I think we put on the car are maybe overdone and we need to get to the point where we get those in exactly the right window again.