For one reason and another, the opening round of the 2007 DTM championship was not one that Mercedes-Benz will remember with too much fondness, adding extra impetus to its efforts in round two at Oschersleben.
Hockenheim has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Three Pointed Star, making Matthias Ekstrom's win and a Red Bull Abt Audi 1-2 even harder to stomach. Although Mercedes took third place, it was with the 2006-spec C-Class of Daniel la Rosa, after expected title challenger Bruno Spengler was penalised for contact with Audi's Timo Scheider, while reigning champion Bernd Schneider could manage only seventh, one place behind Jamie Green, and sandwiched between the '05 vintage entry of rookie Paul di Resta and the '06 car of returnee Gary Paffett. In addition, the eight fastest race laps posted by two Audis.
As a result, there is more than one point to be proven at this weekend's second round, as the series heads to Oschersleben - the scene of Tom Kristensen's victory for Audi in 2006.
“As everybody could see, we did not act very skilfully during the second half of the race in Hockenheim, and we have been defeated there after nine consecutive race wins," motorsport VP Norbert Haug admitted, "Starting from pole position on the debut of the new C-Class, Bruno Spengler was in the lead until his final pit-stop but, following his 50-second time penalty on the final lap, which he had entered in second place, he has now zero points."
Spengler is ready to start afresh at Oschersleben, keen to put his title bid back on track.
“I have put the disappointing result at Hockenheim behind and focus on the race in Oschersleben,“ the Canadian stressed, while the man who inherited his silverware insisted that he wanted to show that he was worthy of it.
“Following Bruno's time penalty I achieved a podium position, but I don't like to score points - or even a podium - this way," la Rosa claimed, "At Oschersleben, I want to show that my performance at Hockenheim did not happen accidentally.“
Haug found comfort in the form the older cars in the opening round, even though their 'success' will earn them greater weight penalties for round two.
"Our four C-Class cars posted competitive lap times during the race but, except for Spengler, they were all in the second third of the field following the opening lap after the re-start and were not in positions to fight for the podium, " he said, "Although there were six Mercedes in the points positions - from third to eighth places - there's only one thing for it - we must do better at Oschersleben.“
The new weight distribution programme in the DTM means that there are handicap weights for the newer cars should they win, but also for the 2005 and 2006 models if they score points. Ironically, the new rule - which steps 7kg at a time instead of the previous 5kg - means that, while the 2007 Audis gain weight, the new C-Class cars of Schneider, Spengler, Green and Mika Häkkinen will start with seven kilograms less than they carried at Hockenheim. Also, as the 2005 and 2006 models also scored points, they have to add weight.
That will be particularly galling for Susie Stoddart who, despite a decent qualifying, failed to complete a lap after being caught up in Tom Kristensen's accident.
“After retiring so early in the race at Hockenheim, my first target for Oschersleben is to finish," the Scot insisted, "If I manage to achieve a good qualifying result like ten days ago, it should be possible to finish among the top ten.“