Mattias Ekstrom's decision to save his tires at a crucial stage of DTM qualifying was instrumental in the Swede taking pole position at Hockenheim, according to head of Audi Sport Wolfgang Ullrich.
Ekstrom completed only two laps on new rubber during Q3 in his Abt Sportsline-run Audi A5, whereas the other nine drivers in the session did at least three tours. As a result, his Hankooks were fresher in Q4 than those of Jamie Green, Dirk Werner or Edoardo Mortara; DTM rules stating that drivers may not change tires between the final two sections of qualifying.
Ullrich said: "He [Ekstrom] was the only one that only used his tires for two laps in the third qualifying, and in these tight conditions maybe this was the difference. It's the advantage of the old rabbits, as we say."
Ekstrom, who sealed the 20th pole of his DTM career and the first of the championship's new era, said that he was satisfied, rather than happy, to be starting from the front of the grid by over 0.2 seconds
"It's because of the massive amount of pressure I put on myself," he said. "It's almost not possible to be happy yet because there is still the race ahead and a job to do. So I am satisfied to be on pole, but if I win the race, then I will be happy.
"It wasn't easy today. I actually thought that [fellow Audi drivers] Mike Rockenfeller and Edo [Mortara] looked very fast and I thought they'd be the first two Audis. I'm not quite sure what happened with Rocky [who starts fifth] and Edo didn't get Q4 quite right [and starts fourth]. But I just tried to do a smooth lap with as few mistakes as possible and this I managed quite OK."