Gary Paffett has described last weekend's Nurburgring DTM race as a "missed opportunity" to further strengthen his position at the head of the championship.
The HWA Mercedes driver arrived at the circuit 26 points ahead of his teammate Jamie Green, but with Bruno Spengler winning, the British driver's advantage has been cut to only 20 points with four races remaining and 100 points still available.
Paffett, who finished sixth; his worst result of the year, hoped to have done better after focusing on race simulation runs throughout practice.
"After the race pace we've had this year, we expected to be strong, so it's a bit of a missed opportunity," he said. "Even on Friday [in first practice] we thought so. I was looking at a top-five finish right from there, and we didn't do that."
The HWA cars lacked pace in qualifying trim with Green the best-placed in seventh and Paffett back in 11th, failing to make it out of Q2 after his final timed lap was disrupted by a spin for Augusto Farfus that brought out yellow flags and stopped him improving his time in sector two.
After a good start that brought him to seventh on the opening lap, and an opening pitstop that moved him ahead of Robert Wickens' Mucke C-coupe, Paffett was optimistic of overhauling Mike Rockenfeller and Green for fourth. But a long final stop, thanks to a slow right-rear wheel change, cost him that chance.
"We lost time in the second stop and if we hadn't had that, we'd have been in the top five, and I'd have been happy with that," Paffett added. "Fourth was possible; I was quicker than Jamie for the whole race, but he had the better strategy and he finished in front of me.
"I'm pleased enough to finish sixth from 11th, but definitely that stop prevented me passing Rockenfeller, and had the strategy been perfect then fourth was possible. Passing two cars on the track would have been very difficult."
The DTM continues this weekend at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.