Gary Paffett headed Jamie Green to win the opening round of the 2012 DTM at Hockenheim; Mercedes' British drivers taking a 1-2 finish for the manufacturer.
From sixth on the grid, Paffett passed the slow-starting Dirk Werner and Mike Rockenfeller on the opening lap, and then made a superbly-judged move on Edoardo Mortara's Rosberg Audi at the Mercedes Arena shortly afterwards to take third.
An error from polesitter Mattias Ekstrom, who ran wide at Turn 2 during the early stages, allowed Paffett's HWA teammate Green to take the lead, and the 2005 champion then also made it past the Abt Audi three corners later with a neat move.
The destiny of the race was resolved at the first of two mandatory tire stops. Paffett pitted one lap later than his teammate and rejoined the track alongside Green. The two cars ran side-by-side through Turn 2 and all the way along the main straight before Paffett made use of the inside line at the Spitzkehre to take a lead he would not lose.
Ekstrom dropped back at around 0.3s per lap for the remainder of the race, but was a comfortable third, ahead of HWA's impressive Christian Vietoris, who climbed from 15th on the grid to fifth by mid-distance and then made it by Rockenfeller's Phoenix Audi with five laps to go.
Rockenfeller was fifth with Britain's Andy Priaulx an excellent sixth on his DTM debut for the RBM BMW squad. Priaulx chased down Rockenfeller during the final stages of the race, turning a 4sec deficit into one of just 0.6sec by the checkered flag.
The race was not so good for the remainder of the BMW drivers. After starting badly Schnitzer driver Werner was spun to the tail of the field by Ralf Schumacher early on. Schumacher also cannoned into Bruno Spengler's sister car in the same incident while a chain reaction behind involved Adrien Tambay hitting or being hit by three other cars. Both Spengler and Tambay (Abt) retired in the pits after losing their hoods.
Schumacher dropped back to 13th after receiving a drive-through penalty for his part in the incident, but the HWA driver made good progress later on, passing David Coulthard's Mucke-run C-coupe for seventh with four laps left. Miguel Molina (Phoenix) and Filipe Albuquerque (Rosberg) completed the top 10 while Mortara - given a drive-through penalty for spinning American Joey Hand's BMW – fell to 11th by the flag.
Results - 40 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1h04m37.615s
2. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes + 4.709s
3. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi + 19.434s
4. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes + 25.774s
5. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi + 27.834s
6. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW + 28.435s
7. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes + 39.948s
8. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes + 43.306s
9. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi + 46.079s
10. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi + 46.614s
11. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi + 47.253s
12. Susie Wolff Mucke Mercedes + 51.971s
13. Joey Hand RMG BMW + 1m08.628s
14. Robert Wickens Persson Mercedes + 1m09.027s
15. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW + 1m09.556s
16. Rahel Frey Abt Audi + 1m16.123s
17. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW + 1 lap
Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 38 laps
Timo Scheider Abt Audi 13 laps
Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 4 laps
Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 3 laps
Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 3 laps