Despite Mercedes claiming the top step of the podium, fierce rival Audi insisted that it was 'extremely satisfied' with second for Tom Kristensen and third for Heinz-Harald Frentzen at Hockenheim.

The pair carved their way from just inside the top ten on the grid into the top three, aided by shrewd strategy from their respective teams.

"I'm really very satisfied," exclaimed Audi debutant Frentzen, "To be right at the front in the championship from the word go is very important."

Second place man Kristensen praised the Team Abt Siemens performance, but revealed that a steering problem had stunted any aspirations of victory.

"The team did a fantastic job in the pits and with the strategy," he said, "I edged closer and closer to Bernd [Schneider] but, about eleven laps before the finish, the steering wheel was suddenly askew after I'd driven over the kerbs on the corner exit. I didn't risk anything after that and kept well away from the outside kerbs. That's why I'm happy that I finished second."

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport, was pleased with Audi's overall performance, with Martin Tomczyk and Timo Scheider claiming points in seventh and eighth respectively.

"That really was a nail-biting race, so a second and third position for Tom and Heinz-Harald is an excellent team performance," he said, "We demonstrated just how much potential is in the Audi A4 DTM, and saw that cars from both manufacturers are almost as quick as each other."