Over 70,000 spectators visited the Oschersleben event over the eighth race weekend of the 2013 season, where there were several anniversaries being celebrated that included a centenary of DTM starts for 2005 DTM Champion, Britain’s Gary Paffett.
This weekend saw him secure the best qualifying performance of the weekend in 7th place, before a tyre admin error by the Stuttgart outfit demoted the current Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver a further five places down the grid.
He said that it was a case of being unlucky when it came to Mercedes’ pace on qualifying, as around the 3.696km track, position on the grid would play a part into how the race would eventually transpire.
However, he was happy with his performance for the 51-lap race distance: “I drove a strong race and kept seeing Mike Rockenfeller and Augusto Farfus as they ducked out of sight at the end of the straights. Audi were very strong today but not invincible. We were not too far behind in terms of pace and were just unlucky on Saturday. Everyone knows how closely contested and how evenly matched the field is in the DTM, and moving forwards is not easy from a low starting position.”
Last year did not turn out to be the best of results for the 32-year-old when it came to racing at Zandvoort, having being hit by BMW Motorsport’s Martin Tomczyk during the race, putting his title chances under threat last year whilst fighting against Bruno Spengler for his second title.
Had he been further up the grid, Paffett felt that he would have been able to challenge for a place at the sharp end, but the focus is now on the next race at Zandvoort itself: “Now we’ll have to try to qualify well up the field again for the next race at Zandvoort. We will then be in contention for a place among the leaders once more.”
It may have been disappointing for Mercedes this weekend, as several of the drivers, including Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens were eliminated from the title fight, this is a great source of motivation for Toto Wolff, DTM Management head Wolfgang Schattling and the team to come back stronger next year.
Schattling gave his analysis of the race weekend itself, and felt that the incident between Spengler and Wickens needn’t have gotten out of hand the way it did, with all set to get well prepared for the last two races of the year: “That was a disappointing weekend as far as we are concerned, but at least, Gary was able to fight his way up into sixth position. Gary went on a good charge to mark his 100th DTM race. Unfortunately, our team’s performance this weekend was not as strong as it has been in other races this season. That was due to some extent to the weather in qualifying here in Oschersleben. We will now analyze exactly why we were not as good as expected in qualifying and in the race.”
So another year for the “Three-Pointed Star” is over when it comes to the fights for the title, which are currently out of reach, but they will continue to fight the last two battles of the 2013 season, looking to salvage some pride with victory…