Mercedes-Benz showed just how easy the tables can be turned in what has been an unpredictable season so far, when it comes to qualifying, as we have had four different drivers securing pole position in the 2013 DTM season. Christian Vietoris finally secured his first career pole position 0.225 seconds ahead of fellow Stuttgart driver Gary Paffett, who was a lot happier this time around, with the race for pole not having been that fruitful for Toto Wolff’s squad until now.
Jamie Green’s efforts for trying to turn things around were well rewarded, as the plucky Brit made it his first outing in qualifying this season as the best placed Audi Sport driver in 3rd, with Canada’s Robert Wickens making it no BMWs in the top 4 for the first time this year, with Wickens’ countryman and defending champion, Bruno Spengler placing as the top Munich driver in 5th. Mike Rockenfeller is clearly gunning for the BMW driver, as he is currently 12 points behind in the race for the title.
Q1 saw a major surprise, as three of the former DTM champions on the grid were eliminated early, with Audi’s Mattias Ekstrom and Timo Scheider had to watch from the sidelines, along with 2011 champion Martin Tomczyk, having both a broken front splitter and damage to his radiator, forcing him to stop his assault on the 3.478km circuit. The Bavarian’s RMG team mate, Guernsey’s Andy Priaulx, had further troubles in qualifying yet again, as the 3-time WTCC champion completes the back row of the grid.
Miguel Molina also had to stop on track during Q1, as a result of a gearbox issue, ending his quest for the front of the grid, which has shown that he is able to bring great results, but having a technical failure is not helpful in such high-pressure situations. Joey Hand also was an early casualty going out in 20th place, with BMW clearly not having it all its own way like last year,
Marco Wittmann and Timo Glock were unfortunate this time, as the surprise Team MTEK podium finishers from Spielberg were not having the pace to compete at the sharp end of the grid, with the former test driver from BMW starting from 19th. Glock, himself, originally qualified P14, but due to impeding Daniel Juncadella in the pit lane, the former F1 driver will start from P17 instead. Augusto Farfus was the first driver to be penalized for not using tyres that were allocated to him in practice this morning, so drops to 15th on the grid for race day tomorrow.
Juncadella and fellow DTM rookie, Pascal Wehrlein, Made it into the top 15, with the German going out all guns blazing, ending up in P10, following a credible job this time out, which could look to be a potential points finish this time out, depending on strategy and tire wear at the Lausitzring.
Audi Sport had not just one, but two drivers celebrating birthdays this weekend, with Green and Filipe Albuquerque looking ahead to a great weekend of racing, with the Audi tradition of a birthday cake in the face catching the Audi Financial Services driver out. But the Portuguese driver is hopeful that his grid position number for tomorrows’ race, 13, will prove to be lucky the lights go out at the Euro Speedway, which has a number of different configurations to test all comers. Adrien Tambay and Edoardo Mortara also had strong qualifying performances, qualifying P7 and P8 respectively, pushing the majority of the BMW M3 contingent down to the lower end of the grid. Roberto Merhi also did a great job, putting his Thomas Sabo C-Class AMG Coupe in P9, showing a good improvement over his controversial actions so far from the
This could be the race that could turn the tide, but anything can happen, as has been the case with every driver pushing as possible to get the maximum out of their V8-powered vehicles towards a mutual goal: The honour of DTM champion. So, will we see 4 different winners after the fourth race of the season? We’ll find out tomorrow….