Did Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich really instruct driver Timo Scheider, “Schieb ihn raus!” (or “Push him out!”) over the radio during yesterday’s Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters race? Dr. Ullrich claims that he was on a different channel than Scheider, but the TV edit looks pretty bad.
Here’s the incident in question. Scheider’s Audi gets stuck behind the two Mercedes cars of Pascal Wehrlein and Robert Wickens.
After “Schieb ihn raus!” gets blurted out over one of Audi’s team radio channels, Scheider bumps Wickens in the rear, which sends him into the rear of Wehrlein. Both Mercs slide into the gravel.
According to Autosport, Scheider claims that he never heard Ullrich.
“I got the confirmation that there was a call after the race, when I checked the video, so I did not hear any comment while driving,” Scheider told Autosport.
Scheider explained to Autosport that the tap was merely from racing hard, done on purpose:
Until the last lap and up to Turn 2 it was a clean fight and it was tough, with some elbows. And then towards Turn 3, Robert tried to cover Pascal quite a bit down to the braking area.
I did what I did the laps before, braking at my point, I touched Robert slightly, which was for sure unlucky and in the end he hit Pascal and both went off.
It’s a bad situation, especially to send the championship leader into the gravel trap is bad, no question of that.
I’m really sorry about this, but in the end of the day this is racing and when you see how many cars went off down there in the race without anything, I think you can imagine how difficult it is down there be a bit late on the brake.
But after checking my data, I can say I was just spot on with the braking point.
He’s right insofar that it was very wet. If cars braked earlier than he expected in front of him, too, that would explain it under any other circumstance.
Audi, too, claims that Dr. Ullrich’s exclamation was not on the driver’s radio channel. Dr. Ullrich explained how he never meant for this exclamation to go out over the radio to the driver in a post-race interview:
Dr. Ullrich was not happy that about how this looked on the broadcast—his communication was only supposed to go to the heads of the Audi teams.
In a release from Audi after the race, Dr. Ullrich fesses up that it was his statement, but still stresses that he never intended his exclamation to be heard by Scheider:
Of course I can understand the excitement among the motorsport fans. On TV, it really came across as if we’d instructed Timo (Scheider) to push a rival off track. But that was definitely not the case. I’m sorry that in the initial emotion at the command post I shouted ‘Timo, push him out.’ I do not communicate by radio with the drivers during the race and didn’t know that the radio was open. This was not an instruction for Timo by any means. I can only apologize for this remark. An expression like this does not reflect my idea of motorsport, but was strictly due to the adrenaline at that moment.
Scheider was ultimately excluded from the Race 2 results for the bump. According to motorsport journalist Bianca Leppert, the Deutscher Motor Sport Bund (DTM’s governing body) decided that Scheider made the tap on purpose after looking at the data. The DMSB’s sport court will now examine the hotly debated radio message in further detail.
Audi still contends that this disqualification was bunk, so we’ll see what the DMSB finds out in regards to Audi’s supposedly quite complicated team radio setup.
“I’m a racer and was fuming about the way Timo was dealt with,” said Dr. Ullrich in a team statement. “We’ve frequently seen such games in the DTM before. It was also definitely not Timo’s intent to push another driver off track.”
Needless to say, Dr. Ullrich was irritated that all the attention was on Scheider’s bump and not on Audi DTM driver Mattias Ekström’s race win and championship lead.
The way the incident was shown on the broadcast, however, looks pretty damning. Naturally, Head of Mercedes DTM Ulrich Fritz was not amused by the bump:
To Pascal Wehrlein, this means war. He was robbed of much needed championship points to Ekström’s compatriot. It’s on. Prepare your tailpipe, Audi. Wehrlein is mad.
Wehrlein vented his frustration to Autosport:
The last lap was very obvious.
I overtook Scheider and Wickens without touching them. So it was a fair fight, until Turn 3, when I got a big hit from behind.
Already when I jumped out of my car, my engineer told me that it was on purpose from Scheider, so it wasn’t Robert.
Now we’ve had a look at the replay and he got the radio call “push them out,” and that’s so obvious.
If Audi has to win a championship like this, I would say they’ve started a big war today.
I hope they will have big consequences, I hope everyone is writing about this situation, what Audi was starting and I hope that no one is buying an Audi next week.
Wickens, who drove the pimiento cheese in this car sandwich, was more tempered in his comments to Autosport. He admitted that he “braked maybe a bit conservatively to make sure that [he] made the corner” and that he hadn’t seen the race broadcast yet, but that it’s “not fair” if the bump was, in fact, on purpose.
Who’s right? Audi, who claims that there’s no way Scheider could have heard Dr. Ullrich, or Mercedes, who’d like to give Dr. Ullrich’s neatly polished head a swirly right about now?
We’ll see if there’s some trick radio setup at play here, but generally, professional race organizers tend to know about their own teams’ radio traffic. How else would it end up on a broadcast?
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