Liam Lawson has taken a commanding victory in the opening race of the 2021 DTM season at Monza.
Lawson started the race seventh on the grid, but a strong opening stint in his Red Bull AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo and a perfectly timed pitstop allowed him to undercut polesitter and race leader Vincent Abril and overtake the Frenchman on his outlap, effectively claiming the lead of the race.
The New Zealander then held Abril at bay as they filtered to the front of the grid, going on to take victory. Abril came home in second, with his Team HRT team-mate completing the podium in third place.
Alex Albon had a strong outing in his maiden DTM start, finishing fourth after a bol drive. He made a bold move up the inside of Esmee Hawkey at the Rettifilo chicane and like Lawson, executed a fine drive including battles with Audi stars Nico Müller and Kelvin van der Linde.
In the closing stages, he held off pressure from GruppeM Racing’s Daniel Juncadella, who finished fifth. Juncadella’s race was marked by a controversial scrap with Müller that culminated with the two making contact at the Roggia chicane, sending Müller’s Audi spinning off the track.
Müller went on to finish eighth, relinquishing seventh to Maximilian Buhk in the closing stages. Both drivers came home behind the Abt Sportsline Audi of Kelvin van der Linde.
Marco Wittmann finished in ninth, with the top ten completed by Mike Rockenfeller. Esteban Muth finished eleventh, despite a drive that notably included a bold overtake attempt round the outside at the Roggia chicane on Wittmann, which ultimately did not pay off.
Sheldon van der Linde came home twelfth, ahead of Lucas Auer. Auer ran out front until the pitstops, when an issue with his right rear wheel left him in the pits for an extended period of time and ended any hopes of a good result.
Arjun Maini and Esmee Hawkey were fourteenth and fifteenth respectively, with Sophia Floersch and Timo Glock the last cars running at the flag.
Two drivers retired from the race: Philip Ellis with mechanical issues, and Dev Gore after being tagged into the gravel by Glock at the Rettifilio chicane.