Gary Paffett led a Mercedes 1-2-3-4 in the DTM season opener at Hockenheim on Sunday, as Audi endured a race to forget. The 2005 series champion, who slowed in the closing stages to protect his car, led home Bruno Spengler, Jamie Green and Paul di Resta to complete a dominant result for Mercedes.
Paffett ran at the head of the field from lap 11, when early leader Martin Tomczyk spun his Audi in spectacular fashion at the first corner due to a left-rear puncture. The German had taken the lead on the opening lap, and looked relatively comfortable before his tire failure.
The main threat to Paffett's lead after that came from his old Audi rival Mattias Ekstrom, but the Swede was ruled out of contention when it was discovered that he had made his first pit stop one lap before the pit window was opened, so he was forced to come in for a third stop. That promoted the 2008-car of Green into second, but the Persson driver had no answer to a charging Spengler, who demoted the Briton to third on lap 32.
As Paffett slowed the lead group, di Resta was also able to close up, and by the end of the race the lead Audis of Mike Rockenfeller and a recovering Ekstrom were also on the tail of the leaders.
Behind the top six, reigning champion Timo Scheider had a quiet run to a distant seventh for Audi, while DTM rookie Miguel Molina took the final point.
David Coulthard achieved his aim of making the finish in his first race in the German series, coming home 12th just ahead of fellow Mercedes rookie Franky Cheng and Katherine Legge.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Gary Paffett Mercedes 1h02m31.580s
2. Bruno Spengler Mercedes + 0.567s
3. Jamie Green Mercedes + 1.841s
4. Paul di Resta Mercedes + 2.251s
5. Mike Rockenfeller Audi + 3.201s
6. Mattias Ekstrom Audi + 3.420s
7. Timo Scheider Audi + 13.067s
8. Miguel Molina Audi + 13.503s
9. Ralf Schumacher Mercedes + 16.911s
10. Alexandre Premat Audi + 28.509s
11. Susie Stoddart Mercedes + 28.944s
12. David Coulthard Mercedes + 35.164s
13. Franky Cheng Mercedes + 36.589s
14. Katherine Legge Audi + 46.817s
15. Markus Winkelhock Audi + 1m14.113s
16. Maro Engel Mercedes + 1m20.480s
17. Martin Tomczyk Audi + 7 laps
Oliver Jarvis Audi 1 lap