by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

DTM 2012 Finale at Hockenheim: Complete Report

I. DTM 2012 Finale at Hockenheim: Qualifying - Gary Paffett starts from front row

In Sunday’s closing race of the 2012 DTM season (shown live on ARD from 13:45 CET), current championship leader Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) will be starting from second place on the grid. In the Q4 shootout, Paffett set a time of 1:34,261 minutes. Starting from pole position will be Augusto Farfus (BMW / 1:34.140).

Gary Paffett leads the standings going into the final race of the season, three points ahead of Bruno Spengler (BMW). Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), currently third in the table and 18 points adrift, still has a mathematical chance of claiming the title. Green, who won the closing race of the 2011 season at Hockenheim, posted a time of 1:34.251 and starts Sunday’s race from tenth on the grid.

For the eighth time in the ten races staged this season, a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé will be starting from the front row. There were front row lockouts at Brands Hatch and in Nuremberg achieved by Paffett and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé) and by Paffett and Green respectively. In the history of the DTM, Mercedes-Benz has qualified for the front row in 223 out of 353 races since 1988. In seven out of the last nine home races at Hockenheim, a Mercedes-Benz driver has started from the front row.

Qualifying Part 1: Championship leader Gary Paffett posted the fastest time – 1:33.964 – in Q1. Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 17th) missed progressing to Q2 by just six thousandths of a second. Schumacher achieved a time of 1:34.722 minutes, one thousandth of a second faster than Robert Wickens (stern AMG Mercedes C-Coupé / 1:34.723) in P18. Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupe / 1:35.023) was 19th. David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:35.275) will be in P21 and Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:35.325) in 22nd place on the grid in their final DTM race. Seven and a half tenths of a second covered positions one to 16.

Qualifying Part 2: Gary Paffett again secured the fastest time – 1:33.823 – in the second part of qualifying. Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé / 1:34.358) will start from position 13 on the grid in the last race of the season. The Top 14 in Q2 were within half a second of one another.

Comments on qualifying:

Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Second (1:34.261):
“Pole position was my goal, but still, I'm on the front row of the grid and so feel very relaxed about the last race of the season tomorrow. All the hard work on the car has paid off. My THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was brilliant in all the sessions and I’ve really enjoyed racing at this track. Now I’m looking forward to an exciting and fair season finale. I’ve already won four races at Hockenheim and secured seven podium finishes, so I'm extremely optimistic about this last race of the season.”

Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Tenth (1:34.251):
“Tenth place is not brilliant in terms of my championship chances, but unfortunately, I was just not quick enough. My lap times in Q1 and Q2 were not bad, but the tyres lacked grip in Q3. But I’m still in with a chance – even in the title fight – starting from tenth place in tomorrow’s race. If I can make it safely through the first turn, then I can achieve a decent result, even from P10.”

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé), 13th (1:34.358):
“At first glance, 13th on the grid doesn’t look too good, but I started from 15th in this year's season opener here at Hockenheim and finished fourth in the race. So tomorrow, there's everything to play for. I can improve my position with a good start and the appropriate strategy, and I'll do my level best.”

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 17th (1:34.722):
“I missed progressing to the second qualifying session today by only six thousandths of a second. That's disappointing, because I had intended doing more at Hockenheim, a track that I know very well. But tomorrow is a new day and a lot can happen in the race.”

Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 18th (1:34.723):
“I’m disappointed with P18 on the grid, even though today's qualifying was extremely tight. The gap between Ralf and myself was just one thousandth of a second. I missed P16 in Q1 and going through to Q2 by only seven thousandths of a second. That's a blink of the eye. I hope I have better luck in the race tomorrow and can move up the field.”

Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 19th (1:35.023):
“I had, of course, reckoned on doing better than 19th place on the grid in the final qualifying session of the season. I posted a satisfactory time on the first set of tyres, but unfortunately, I couldn’t improve my position on the second set. The balance of the car was different and I was not able to push as hard as before.”

David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 21st (1:35.275):
“P21 on the grid is a disappointing result for my last qualifying in the DTM, but today has once again shown how tight it is in the DTM. Only the slightest mistake and you fail to make it through to the next segment. Tomorrow is my last DTM race and I will do my utmost to achieve a decent result for the fans and bow out in style.”

Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 22nd (1:35.325):
“It’s strange knowing that today is my last qualifying in the DTM. I wish I had been able to secure a better grid position for the fans, but I’ve really enjoyed driving here today. I’ve had a great time in the DTM during the past seven years and am looking forward to my last race, where I will once again do my absolute best.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Qualifying was a real four-part thriller – Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 – and so far, it has gone Gary’s way – he is on the front row of the grid.”

Qualifying: Top 10

Pos / Driver / Make / Time

1. Augusto Farfus / BMW / 1:34.140
2. Gary Paffett / Mercedes-Benz / 1:34.261
3. Bruno Spengler / BMW / 1:34.268
4. Mattias Ekström / Audi / 1:34.627
5. Joey Hand / BMW / 1:34.031
6. Martin Tomczyk / BMW / 1:34.050
7. Dirk Werner / BMW / 1:34.079
8. Timo Scheider / Audi / 1:34.133
9. Edoardo Mortara / Audi / 1:34.159
10. Jamie Green / Mercedes-Benz / 1:34.251

II. DTM 2012 Finale at Hockenheim: Race - Gary Paffett is 2012 DTM runner-up

Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) came second in the DTM grand finale at Hockenheim to finish the 2012 season as championship runner-up, four points behind Bruno Spengler (BMW). The newly crowned champion won the last race of the year by a 2.2-second margin.

Gary Paffett led the championship table from the first race of the year right through to the last, scoring points in nine out of the ten races on the calendar. Going into the closing race weekend of the season, the Englishman held a three-point lead over Bruno Spengler. The newly crowned champion of 2012 began his DTM career with Mercedes-Benz in 2005, subsequently winning nine races in an AMG Mercedes C-Class.

Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) crossed the finish line fourth today. The Englishman is the only DTM driver to have scored points in all ten races this season and ends the championship campaign in third position.

THOMAS SABO / Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG were second and Mercedes AMG were placed third in the DTM team championship. With 168 wins, ten drivers’, thirteen team and nine manufacturers’ titles, Mercedes-Benz is the most successful manufacturer in the DTM.

Since the first works entry in 1988, Mercedes-Benz drivers have secured a total of 489 podium finishes, including nine this season, in 353 races.

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé) both finished in the points – ninth and tenth respectively – in this home race for Mercedes-Benz at Hockenheim. Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) bowed out in her 74th and final DTM race with a P13 finish. Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) came home in 15th place. David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) both had to retire in the closing race of the season. Coulthard was likewise competing in the DTM for the last time.

On lap 29, Gary Paffett secured a 1:35.402, the fastest of the 42 laps. This was Paffett’s ninth fastest lap in his DTM career and his second at Hockenheim. This season, Mercedes-Benz drivers have posted fastest race lap six times in total. Since 1988, Mercedes-Benz drivers have achieved the fastest lap time in 168 races.

A total of 128,000 spectators attended the DTM finale weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) at Hockenheim.

Race summary

The start: Gary Paffett finishes the first lap in third place. Jamie Green moves up four positions to sixth. Christian Vietoris goes up three positions to eleventh. Ralf Schumacher races up through the field from 17th on the grid to twelfth.
Lap 5: Paffett in third place, Green sixth. Schumacher, David Coulthard and Vietoris in P11, 12 and 13 respectively.
Lap 8: Schumacher overtakes Martin Tomczyk (BMW) and is now tenth.
Lap 10: Green finds a way past Joey Hand (BMW) in a scrap for fifth place.
Lap 11: The pit stop window is open and Paffett comes in for his first mandatory pit stop. As he exits the pits, he overtakes Augusto Farfus (BMW) and moves into second place.
Lap 12: First change of tyres for Green and Vietoris.
Lap 13: Schumacher and Coulthard pit.
Lap 14: First pit stop for Susie Wolff.
Lap 18: Paffett in second place, 3.5 seconds down on Bruno Spengler (BMW).
Lap 20: Paffett in second place, Green fourth, Schumacher ninth and Vietoris tenth. Robert Wickens retires in the pits.
Lap 22: Schumacher comes in for second pit stop.
Lap 23: Coulthard put into a spin by Timo Scheider (Audi) and retired. Second mandatory pit stop for Vietoris.
Lap 24: Paffett in P2 pits for second time.
Lap 25: Final mandatory pit stop for Green.
Lap 30: Paffett reduces deficit on Spengler to two seconds since pit stop.
Lap 32: Ten laps to go, and the gap is now only 1.3 seconds.
Final lap (Lap 42): After 42 laps and a total race distance of 192.108km, Gary Paffett finishes the last race of the season in second place. Jamie Green is fourth.

Comments after the race:

Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Second:
„My team has done brilliantly well this season in terms of performance and it is very unfortunate that we missed winning the championship title in the last race by four points. So in the immediate aftermath of the race, disappointment sits deep, of course, because from my point of view we deserved to win the championship title just as much as Bruno Spengler and BMW. Congratulations to Bruno on his first DTM title! We will go on the attack again next year to take the championship.“

Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Fourth:
„Third place in the Drivers' Championship, my best result so far, proves that I had a strong season in 2012. I had a chance of winning the title in the finale at Hockenheim this weekend, but nevertheless, I am satisfied with my year. Congratulations to Bruno Spengler and BMW. Bad luck for Gary, he deserved the title win.“

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Ninth:
„It’s good to have scored two points in the grand finale at Hockenheim. That’s a nice way to sign off at the end of a long and exciting season. I’m sorry for Gary that he missed out on the title by such a slender margin. He put in a fantastic performance today which unfortunately wasn’t rewarded with the championship crown. Congratulations to BMW and to Bruno Spengler who was a member of the Mercedes-Benz family for so many years.“

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé), Tenth:
„Tenth place was unfortunately the best result possible for me today. The start went well, but I was stuck behind Martin Tomczyk’s BMW for quite a long spell. That cost me a lot of time and had a negative effect on my race. Otherwise, I think that a place higher up the field would have been a distinct possibility. But a points-scoring finish is nevertheless a good way to end the season “

Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 13th:
„I’m leaving the DTM with mixed emotions – I want to laugh and cry at the same time. I would have liked to have secured a better result than P13 for my fans, but I'm looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. My thanks go to Mercedes-Benz for their continued support.“

Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 15th:
„Congratulations to Bruno Spengler and BMW on winning the title. Gary and Bruno staged a thrilling chase right through to the final lap. My own race was a bit chaotic. I would’ve liked to finish my rookie season with a championship point or two, but unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. What a pity.“

David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), retired:
„Competing in my last race here at Hockenheim in front of so many DTM fans has been a great honour. I had obviously intended securing a better result on the occasion of bowing out from the DTM. However, you can’t pick and choose in the DTM, this is racing at the highest level. I have had an absolutely brilliant time during the past three years in the DTM and will always look back with fondness to this period in my life. Many thanks to Mercedes-Benz and to all our fans everywhere.“

Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), retired:
„My goal was to go into the winter break with a decent result under my belt. Unfortunately, it has not been possible, and so at the moment I am quite disappointed, but overall I'm pleased with my debut season in the DTM. I’ve learned a lot and have secured my first points in a top class field. I intend building on that achievement in the future.“

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
„Today marks the end of the first DTM season contested under the new regulations. Gary Paffett has played a strong role throughout, particularly in this final race in which he staged a thrilling chase that ultimately fell short of victory. Congratulations to Bruno, BMW and Team Schnitzer on winning the title. We end this magnificent season with our heads held high, and in this closing race, we showed once again that we have the necessary speed to compete for the win. Bruno's victory is well deserved. In 2012, he has achieved what was denied him previously in five attempts when he drove for us, and so we offer him our congratulations. I want to thank Gary and Jamie Green, who finished third in the championship, plus all of our drivers and our teams for their hard work. I wish we could have secured the title to reward all our hard-working colleagues – but a four-point deficit is no reason to be sad. As one season ends, another begins, and we will start 2013 even stronger than before.“

~ Official photos and reports courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH ~

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