Mercedes' Bernd Schneider is no longer heading the standings in the DTM stakes after Audi's Tom Kristensen claimed a superb victory at Oschersleben, but Mercedes still had something to shout about.
As the winner of the opening two rounds Schneider guided his heavy Vodafone Mercedes C-Klasse to fifth as his younger team mates Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green stepped into the limelight.
Spengler, starting third behind Green, seized the initiative from the Brit at the off and claimed the second place that he ended up with after 44 laps of the tight and twisty Oschersleben circuit.
"I made a very good start, but it was not enough to catch Tom Kristensen," said Spengler. "At Oschersleben it is particularly important not to make any mistakes and today I didn't. I'm very happy about my first DTM podium."
The young Canadian drove superbly after beating Green into the first corner for second, posting a series of quick laps and outpacing his team mate as the two ran in very close quarters, almost coming into contact during the first round of pit stops.
Along with Spengler, veteran racer Jean Alesi enjoyed a morale boosting eighth in his '05 spec Mercedes, especially as the Frenchman suffered in qualifying, staring well down the order.
"A great race for me and the team," said the mercurial Alesi. "After the disappointing qualifying we had a good balance and strategy and consequently a good speed. I'm satisfied to have scored a point after starting 14th on the grid."
In stark contrast, fellow ex-Formula One driver Mika Hakkinen endured a problematic race, finishing ninth and denting any momentum gathered from a fine podium in the last race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.
"I am very disappointed. I didn't find a good speed with my car and we don't know the reason for this performance yet," sighed the two-time Formula One World Champion. "I was not able to attack and to overtake. Leaving without points is always annoying."
Vice President of Mercedes Motorsport, Norbert Haug, remained upbeat despite Audi's win and pleased with a decent points haul for the three-pointed star.
"We had expected a difficult race, however, despite the weight handicap we performed well and ended up in the points with four cars," said Haug. "Congratulations to Tom Kristensen and Abt-Audi on a hard fought victory. After two wins in a row, Bernd Schneider had not an optimum race today, he lost positions at the start and during his second pit stop the engine stalled, therefore he got stuck behind Frentzen, but we are pleased."