Defending A1GP title-holders Germany came away frustrated from the 2007/08 curtain-raiser at Zandvoort last weekend, after promising grid slots were undone by a subsequent lack of race pace induced by gearbox woes.

Christian Vietoris qualified the German entry sixth on the grid for the sprint race, and a steady and consistent run would see him maintain that position all the way to the chequered flag, just over ten seconds shy of victory. Having lined up on the front row for the longer feature outing, the German F3 ace had high hopes of a rostrum finish or maybe better, but a transmission problem led to him losing top speed along the straights and ceding positions to a number of rivals. Having reduced his efforts to an exercise in damage limitation, Vietoris brought the 550bhp car home in ninth position to earn another couple of points for his country.

"This was not the weekend we expected," the 18-year-old admitted afterwards. "In qualifying, we showed we've been able to mix it with the top. The David Sears Motorsport team adapted quickly to the changing track conditions between dry and wet and helped me reach the third and first rows on the starting grid.

"Finishing sixth in the sprint race was ok, in spite of a minor issue with the brakes. The feature race, however, was the biggest disappointment of the weekend. From second on the grid, everything was possible. After a good start, I realised on the straights that something was wrong and we didn't reach top speed as I wasn't able to use the six gears properly. We later found out this had cost me roughly 2.5 seconds per lap. We have to make sure this doesn't happen again next time."

Team principal Willi Weber echoed his driver's sentiments, but stressed he was happy to have got the squad off the mark in the opening round and expected a more concerted challenge for victory during the next outing at Brno on 13-14 October.

"It was good to see A1 Team Germany racing in front of a huge crowd here at Zandvoort," Weber stated. "Obviously, expectations were high as we were last year's title-winners and we started from the third and first rows on the grid for the two races.

"I would have loved to have seen Christian fighting for the top. It's disappointing that we haven't been able to make the most of our starting positions, but I'm sure our experienced team will find out soon exactly what caused our problems.

"We scored a total of seven points from both races and we saw in qualifying that the speed is there. In two weeks' time, we want to be back at the top at Brno in the second round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport."



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