A poor start scuppered Team Germany's chances in the latest round of A1GP in Mexico City last weekend, with a mere two-point haul meaning the title fight remains open.

Making his first race start in the nation vs. nation series, rookie Christian Vietoris qualified a superb second - beaten only by Alex Yoong's stunning effort in the Malaysian entry - only to see all his hard work then come undone within seconds of the lights going out.

Salvador Duran in the Mexican machine collided with Brazil's Bruno Junqueira, whose car cannoned into Vietoris, bringing a premature end to the 17-year-old's race debut. This necessitated a change of right-hand rear suspension, driveshaft, various aerodynamic components and the bodywork during the break between the two races.

In the feature the G?nnersdorf-born ace climbed from 21st position up to 16th by the time the pit-stops began on lap nine, rising to ninth place once they were completed. There he would stay to the chequered flag, a poor return from a weekend that had threatened to sew the title race right up.

"I didn't make a good enough start in the sprint race," Vietoris admitted, "and I dropped to third when the accident in which I was involved occurred. It was a great shame because otherwise I could have fought for a podium finish.

"In the main race I started moving up through the field, during which I frequently used the PowerBoost button. I then missed a braking point 17 laps before the finish and flat-spotted a tyre which caused a big vibration. In view of our starting position I'm not satisfied with the race result, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the team for helping me leapfrog a few rivals as a result of our excellent pit-stop."

Team principal Willi Weber was also frustrated by the outcome of the weekend, especially after seeing pursuers New Zealand cut the gap at the top of the points standings from 30 down to 27 with Jonny Reid's sixth-place finish in the feature. With only 34 left to play for over the final two rounds, however, and a returning Nico Hulkenberg, Weber remained confident the crown was well within the team's grasp.

"Everybody was delighted with Christian's fantastic performance in qualifying," he stated, "which is the reason why it was so disappointing to see him retire on the first lap of the sprint race for no reason of his own. The team was penalised twice as hard - there were no points from the sprint and the starting position in the main race was the worst imaginable.

"Christian performed a damage limitation exercise for us and scythed through the field from 21st to ninth position. Even though he would have preferred to score more points this was nevertheless a remarkable performance for somebody competing in his first race in an A1GP car. Christian will have ample opportunity next season to show exactly what he is capable of."



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