The 2018 DTM season was one to remember for a whole host of reasons. Mercedes became the first manufacturer to leave the series since Opel back at the end of 2005, Rene Rast embarked on a sensational and ongoing record-breaking run of six race victories in a row, and Gary Paffett became the champion for the final time before his move to Formula E for 2019. With the 2019 DTM season still very much taking shape, there are going to be so many announcements to look out for over the coming weeks months. But first, I’ve looked back the fortunes of drivers who finished 18th up to 11th in the championship table in part one of my DTM 2018 season review.
18th. Jamie Green – Audi – 27 pts. Best Result 5th.
It’s fair to say that 2018 wasn’t Green’s year. So often a driver we have become accustomed to seeing run at the front of the field, Green’s season was difficult from the get-go at Hockenheim and improved little throughout the year. Audi’s struggles in the first half of the year hit Green hard, but even so, for a driver who had finished 2nd, 3rd and 3rd in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively I’m sure he must have expected more from this season. A solitary 5th place finish at the Red Bull Ring marked his best result of the year and he scored points on just four other occasions. So long a frontrunner in the DTM, Green’s 2018 fortunes were a huge shock and something he will not be keen to repeat.
17th. Loic Duval – Audi – 54 pts. Best Result 4th.
After a difficult debut season in 2017 hopes were high that Duval would go on to greater things this year. A former Le Mans winner with Audi, Duval struggled again in 2018 but did manage to more than double his points score from last year. This season was an improvement and like Green, Duval’s opening half of the season was hampered by Audi’s terrible form. However the championship table doesn’t lie, and Duval finished second last both in the overall standings and within Audi’s internal battle. There were highlights this year, like his maiden pole position at Misano and there’s no doubt Duval is a fine operator. But if he does remain in the DTM in 2019 a huge improvement will be needed. I’m not sure he’s done enough.
16th. Augusto Farfus – BMW – 56 points. Best Result 2nd.
Farfus is a driver who has never quite managed to live up to the performances of his early DTM career. After finishing 7th on his debut in 2012 and 2nd in 2013, Farfus has struggled in recent seasons and 2018 was no different. The lowest placed BMW driver, Farfus had an unspectacular year despite a highlight podium at Brands Hatch. Nine further points scoring finishes would occur but he failed to finish higher than 5th in any of them. That being said, Farfus scored more points this year (56) than he did in either of his previous two seasons (44 in 2016 and 35 in 2017) but the jury is out on whether that will be enough to secure him a drive at BMW next year.
15th. Daniel Juncadella – Mercedes – 61 points. Best Result 1st.
In a year when Mercedes effectively dominated for over half of it, it’s surprising to see Juncadella finish 15th in the table. Returning to the DTM after his absence in 2017, Juncadella struggled to match his Mercedes teammates despite taking a memorable pole and podium at the Norisring and win at Brands Hatch. Juncadella would actually score further points on just four occasions in 2018 and finished a mammoth 41 points behind the next Mercedes teammate. It wasn’t the comeback year we were hoping for, especially given the dominance of the Mercedes cars.
14th. Joel Eriksson – BMW – 72 points. Best Result 1st.
It was a solid rookie year for Eriksson who finished runner-up in the F3 Euro Series in 2017. The Swede, campaigning for BMW scored points in only his second DTM race at Hockenheim at the start of the year and would go on to score points in another eight races. His highlight of the season came at Misano where helped by a strategic masterclass by BMW he scored his first DTM victory under the lights on Sunday night. There was plenty to be positive about for Eriksson in 2018, and he will be confident of pushing on and finishing inside the top ten next year.
13th. Robin Frijns – Audi – 84 points. Best Result 2nd.
Another DTM rookie, Robin Frijns had a strong debut campaign for Audi finishing ahead of his vastly more experienced teammates Green and Duval in the process. Ten points-scoring finishes across the course of the season including two 2nd places represent a good haul for Frijns, especially given Audi’s difficulties at the start of the year. A 2nd and 5th at Hockenheim in the final two races of the season will do no harm to his chances of staying on at Audi for another season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take one or two race wins next year.
12th. Bruno Spengler – BMW – 85 points. Best Result 2nd.
Spengler’s DTM career in recent years has failed to live up to the heights of his 2010 – 2013 heyday, and the 2012 series champion struggled again in 2018. After a reasonable start to the year, Spengler tailed off from Zandvoort onwards but did manage to score a season-best 2nd at the Nurburgring. He scored more points in 2018 than he did in either of his past two seasons, but whether it will be enough for another year at BMW remains to be seen. As a former champion, we know that Spengler can perform better.
11th. Mike Rockenfeller – Audi – 87 points. Best Result 2nd.
Rockenfeller was another driver who struggled with Audi’s poor early season form, and a run of bad results at the Norisring and Zandvoort resulted in him finishing 9 points off the top ten in the championship table. Two 2nd places at Hockenheim and the Red Bull Ring meant he did at least finish the season with some silverware, but 11th place won’t be what he had hoped for after winning the title in 2013 and finishing 4th last year. Rockenfeller’s fortunes improved as Audi’s form did towards the end of the season, and he is a driver capable of finishing in the top five of the table.