Gary Paffett will start the first race of the new DTM season from pole position after leading the way in qualifying at Hockenheim.

Paffett's run to pole means Mercedes will start from the front of the grid for the 50th time since the DTM was relaunched in its current guise back in 2000.

The Briton posted a quickest time of 1min 33.214secs, which was good enough to edge out Audi's Martin Tomcyzk to pole by just 0.076secs.

"The car was good from the very beginning and I continuously improved, I could close up to the front runners," Paffett said. "After the first qualifying heat, I was quite happy and after the third heat, I had a really good feeling. We will try to score as many points as possible, but of course, we want to win the race."

Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green will share the second row of the grid, with Green the quickest driver using a 2008-spec car.

Mattias Ekstrom and Paul di Resta share row three with Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller on row four, but it proved to be a session to forget for defending champion Timo Scheider, who failed to make it past the second stage of qualifying and will start down in ninth place as a result.

"This morning, we were already having problems with the front axle," he said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to completely solve them before qualifying."

Of the newcomers, Miguel Molina was quickest in 13th place, just ahead of Congfu Cheng.

David Coulthard will make his debut from 17th on the grid, just behind former F1 rival Ralf Schumacher.

"It was a lot more difficult than I had expected after the tests," Coulthard said. "Moreover, I had a problem with the balance of the car and suffered from understeer so I was not able to push harder. But Mucke Motorsport is an experienced team and supports me very well. With a good start, I should be able to achieve a better result tomorrow."