Despite further extending their lead at the top of the drivers championship thanks to Gary Paffett’s fourth consecutive podium, it was a difficult weekend in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters for Mercedes in Austria.
Paffett extended his lead in the driver’s championship to 36 points with a third placed finish, whilst Mercedes remain on top in both the teams and manufacturers championships. Paffett, the 2005 DTM Champion,was pleased with his race weekend despite being unable to fight for the win.
“Before the race, we had planned on securing as many points as possible from Spielberg in the championship standings and we were quite successful in that we achieved a podium finish,” explained Paffett. “The race was really exciting – of course, my final position could have been better, but that’s racing. I have extended my lead in the championship and that’s what counts.
“The scraps today were sometimes quite tough going and by the end of the race, my radiator was totally clogged up with grass. Nevertheless, I am very pleased with my four podium finishes in the first four races of 2012 – a first-class start to the season.”
Aside from Paffett only Jamie Green was able to score points for Mercedes with a top ten finish at the Red Bull Ring, as the rest of the Mercedes pilots struggled for pace. Green moved up to third in the championship but is still 39 points behind stable-mate Paffett, with a maximum of 25 available for taking a race win.
“I moved up two places at the start and was heading for the front of the field,” said Green of his race. “Unfortunately, I lost quite a lot of time after a contact with another car. My pace was not too bad today but not enough for victory. Fifth place means, however, that I’ve at least secured important points in the championship where I am now in third place.”
Ralf Schumacher finished in 11th, with three of his fellow Mercedes drivers following him across the finishing line in positions 12 to 14. It is the second time in a row that the German has finished outside the points, leaving him in 14th in the championship.
“I could have done a bit better perhaps but unfortunately it was not meant to be,” summarised Schumacher. “Things don’t always go your way in motor racing, but I am confident that I will be fighting it out with the front-runners again at the Norisring.”
Caught up in a first-lap incident was young German Christian Vietoris, who retired on the opening lap after making heavy contact with the barriers. Vietoris had struggled for pace in qualifying and therefore started from 14th on the grid, just two weeks after having achieved a front-row starting position at Brands Hatch. The German laments the incident, which also eliminated BMW’s Andy Priaulx from the race.
“It’s a pity. My race was over shortly after the start, which is a bit unfortunate, because, whilst qualifying did not go brilliantly, I had planned on achieving a lot in the race but nothing came of it,” explained Vietoris. “I took the outside line on Turn 2 and was just moving back to the inside when another car rear-ended me. Now I must focus on the next race at the Norisring in Nuremberg.”