DTM » 26 April 2007
Points and pain for Mercedes` British contingent.
Mercedes' four-strong Brit pack experienced mixed fortunes in the opening round of the 2007 DTM campaign at Hockenheim last weekend, with three of them coming home in the points but the other ending up in the barriers on the very first lap.
Reigning F3 Euroseries Champion Paul di Resta was not only the highest-placed British driver at the end of the race, but also the third-best C-Class pilot following Bruno Spengler's penalty for tagging Audi star Timo Scheider on the final lap, dropping him back down to 14th. The Scot's performance was particularly impressive given his late signing, single-seater background and the limited 2005-spec machinery at his disposal. After stunning the DTM fraternity by qualifying third on the grid on his touring car debut, the 21-year-old even led his maiden race until a stall at his first pit-stop cost him crucial seconds.
“It was great to lead so many laps in my first DTM race,” he enthused. “I am disappointed that I dropped to fifth towards the end though.”
Having qualified a lowly 13th – a far cry from his habitual position at the head of the timesheets in 2006 – Jamie Green crossed the line just under two seconds behind di Resta in sixth, but was relieved simply to have got off the mark at the first attempt after mechanical gremlins scuppered his pole position this time last year before he had even made it off the starting grid.
“I am glad to score three points,” the 24-year-old admitted. “Starting 13th, this was not an easy task. At least my start of the season was better than last year.”
Making his return to the DTM, meanwhile, McLaren Formula 1 test-driver Gary Paffett also claimed a points-paying finish, by grabbing the final one on offer in eighth place after lining up alongside Green on the seventh row of the grid.
“The car performed well,” the 2005 title-winner acknowledged, “but it was difficult to pass the many drivers in front of me. Next time we have to improve in qualifying to achieve a better race result.”
Still, at least he fared somewhat better than Susie Stoddart, whose promising qualifying showing – 12th in a 2005-spec car, by far the best starting position of her tin-top career – ultimately came to nought as she became an innocent victim of the opening lap smash that left Tom Kristensen and Alex Prémat requiring hospital attention.
“After my good qualifying I was of course disappointed to retire so early,” the Scot confirmed. “However, it is much more important that nothing serious happened to Tom or Alex. Due to the smoke I was not able to see anything and had no chance to avoid the collision.”
The next round of the 2007 season will take place at Oschersleben on 6 May.
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