Mercedes' Gary Paffett has labelled his DTM podium finish at the Hockenheimring as his 'best ever' third place result following an inspired fight back up the order.

Prior to the race, the odds seemingly stacked against his favour as the ART Grand Prix driver - who was supposed to start eighth - was excluded from the qualifying result for the second time in succession.

The 2005 DTM champion was forced to start the race from the back after the stewards found his Mercedes team had failed to fit a mandatory block [spacer] within his C63's DRS mechanism, which is designed to stop the overtaking aid from operating during qualifying.

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"What a race that was! The weekend was a roller-coaster. Obviously I was feeling disappointed after the first race yesterday and the second qualifying session today," said Paffett.

"We had a really good car this weekend that was unbelievably fast in the rain. In these conditions, it's very easy to make mistakes. But the team did a fantastic job, and the race went perfectly for me. After this difficult opening weekend, it's great to be back on the podium."

Paffett's route to the podium was helped by a clever strategic decision in pitting for the wet Hankook tyre a lap in advance, while the rest of the field scrambled around for the disappearing grip on slick rubber.

It was also the first time Paffett collected a trophy for the new ART Grand Prix squad, who steered the former HWA pilot to the rostrum on their debut weekend in the DTM.

"The switch to rain tyres worked beautifully, and our strategy paid off in the end. I've never before been so happy about a third place as I am today.

"A big thank you to my team. The crew did a great job and have thoroughly deserved this result. Thanks, guys!"