for DTM race results from the Red Bull Ring
Marco Wittmann has taken a significant stride towards the 2014 DTM title after claiming his third victory of the season at the Red Bull Ring on an afternoon defined by controversial stewards' decisions, not least Robert Wickens being black flagged whilst leading.
Heading up a BMW 1-2-3-4, it was an impressive drive for Wittmann after a poor first lap left him down in seventh place initially, even if his efforts were arguably overshadowed by decisions going on off-track.
After qualifying on pole position, Wickens got away well from pole position to lead through the opening laps, the Canadian being chased initially by Timo Glock before Augusto Farfus squeezed through into the hairpin on lap five.
Setting off in pursuit of Wickens ahead, Farfus quickly closed the two second margin to the Mercedes driver, but save for some side-by-side barging on lap 12 – which allowed Glock to close up again -, they would race in tandem until Farfus pitted on lap 18.
Wickens responded on lap 21 by making his pit-stop, albeit with Glock on his tail. When the ex-F1 driver managed the quicker stop, Wickens was rushed out in front of the BMW driver, forcing the German to hit the brakes in avoidance.
A move that immediately drew the ire of Glock, Wickens for the time being emerged on track quick enough to stave off the attentions of Farfus on the exit of the pit-lane initially.
However, though Farfus' warmer tyres would see him get the better of Wickens later around the lap anyway, their tussle would in turn give Jamie Green – who was only running seventh before the mandatory stops – the unexpected opportunity to get the jump on everyone ahead by pitting a lap later.
Unfortunately for Green, his joy was to be shortlived when it became apparent he had failed to make his pit-stop in the stated window to replace the option tyre, the British driver duly given a drive-through penalty that would rule him out of contention.
More controversy was to follow, however, when stewards confirmed Wickens would also be forced to serve a drive-through penalty after his release from the pit box was indeed deemed to be unsafe.
However, while Green would go on to take his penalty, Wickens continued to circulate as Mercedes argued a defence and even grabbed the lead again on lap 30 with a robust pass on Farfus at the hairpin.
With Mercedes' protests would falling flat and with Wickens having completed a full six laps without serving his penalty, the black flag was promptly dealt, much to his evident shock. Pitting immediately still thinking he could serve his drive-through penalty, Wickens was directed into his garage and swiftly set off for his bosses to determine what had happened.
Just as Wickens and Green were ruled out of the equation, Wittmann was starting to make his move, gaining from Pascal Wehrlein's exit with technical issues, before overtaking team-mate Glock on lap 29 and then Farfus on lap 31, his team-mates offering no resistance as BMW prioritised its title challenger.
Wickens' subsequent exit would see him promoted to the lead on lap 32, an advantage he would maintain to the chequered flag with the buffer of three other BMW drivers behind him.
A potentially critical win for the young German in only his second DTM season, Wittmann's full marks came on a day when his main rivals struggled for results with Mattias Ekstrom down in seventh, Bruno Spengler and tenth and Edoardo Mortara out of the points altogether, the Italian one of five other drivers to also get a drive-through penalty on a busy day for stewards for not heeding to yellow flags.
As such, with four rounds remaining, Wittmann's lead at the head of the standings is now 39 points from Ekstrom, while Spengler and Mortara are now 53 and 54 points back respectively.
A successful day for BMW, Farfus, Glock and Martin Tomczyk secured second, third and fourth for their best results of the season, while Timo Scheider and Adrien Tambay spared the blushes for Audi with two storming drives to fifth and sixth from 15th and 20th on the grid.
Ekstrom crossed the line in seventh after gaining a position at the expense of Green, while Christian Vietoris picked up a sole points' winning position for Mercedes in ninth on a day the Stuttgart marque will likely want to forget.