1 January 1901
Just five remain in title hunt.
The list of drivers capable of winning this year's DTM title has been whittled down to five following the eighth round of the series at the Nurburgring, but while three of those at Mercedes drivers, each one face a tough task.
Of the trio, Bruno Spengler is best placed in third position, but is now ten points behind Mattias Ekstrom in the standings with only two rounds of the season remaining.
Things are even worse for the remaining two title contenders, Bernd Schneider and Paul di Resta who are 16.5 and 19 points adrift of the championship race and on the verge of being discounted at the next round in Spain.
It means Mika Hakkinen, who is the only Mercedes driver to win two races this season, has now been discounted and will have to focus on bringing the team championship to the three-pointed star again.
It is a situation that Mercedes Vice President Norbert Haug is frustrated with, pointing out that without the half-points awarded at the Lausitzring – races in which Ekstrom and team-mate Martin Tomczyk failed to score anyway – then Spengler would be well in the title hunt.
“Bruno drove a good race and with his second place, we carried out our plan, reduced the gap behind the top a little bit and reduced weight,” he said.
“Several points, more than the ones Bruno is now missing, we lost already in races one and two by a sports penalty and a technical problem, which was very unusual for the HWA team. Since the third race at the Lausitzring, no other driver in the field has scored more points than Bruno, and this despite the fact that the points at the Eurospeedway race have been halved.”
Nonetheless, with both manufacturers lumbered with the same weight from Barcelona, Haug is quietly confident Mercedes can play themselves back into contention.
“In Barcelona in three weeks time, we will finally run the new C-Class without handicap and with the same weight as our competition. In the two final races our points score will not really be at its best, but we will not be without chances. Audi is in the role of the favourite now, but we are also not afraid of difficult challenges.”
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