Gary Paffett believes he is still the overwhelming favorite for the DTM title, despite seeing his lead slashed to almost nothing by Bruno Spengler at Valencia.
Paffett endured a terrible weekend in Spain as all three Mercedes teams failed to generate sufficient grip from the series' Hankook tires at the recently resurfaced track. The Briton qualified only 16th – his worst starting spot of the year – and sustained a broken splitter in an opening-lap collision with Joey Hand's BMW. The damage caused his retirement later in the race, but not before he had been given a two-second stop-go penalty after being judged responsible for the incident.
With BMW driver Spengler recovering from 12th to sixth in the race, Paffett's advantage was reduced from 11 points to three – the smallest it has been all year. Jamie Green is the third driver in with a title hope, 18 points adrift with 25 still available at the Hockenheim season finale.
Paffett believes that the pace his Mercedes showed at the opening round of the season – also at Hockenheim – makes his task straightforward.
"It's pretty simple. I just have to go there and beat Bruno," said Paffett. "We have a car easily quick enough to do it, and at the first race me and Jamie were miles quicker than anyone else. Plus we've been consistent all year speed-wise and only really had here and the Nurburgring where we were slower than BMW – everywhere else we've been either level or faster. So I'm not worried."
Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug said that Paffett was the more deserving champion and that he probably would have wrapped up the championship in Spain had he not been spun around while ahead of Spengler at the Norisring and Zandvoort.
"You look at Zandvoort and Norisring and you can count probably 20 points he's lost," Haug said. "And this is his first non-points finish this year.
"I'm not going to be making big announcements about it, but it's easy to calculate that the championship could have been over now. At least we can say we have two of the three drivers who can win the championship driving for us."