Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) won the 2012 DTM season opener at Hockenheim from sixth place on the grid with a 4.7- second lead on Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé). It was Paffett’s 18th Victory in the DTM and his fourth at Hockenheim.

It was the British driver’s 26th podium in the 82nd DTM race of his career and his seventh in a DTM race at Hockenheim. With 18 wins and a winning rate of 22%, Paffett has achieved the greatest number of victories among those drivers currently contesting the DTM. Paffett and Green secured the 100th one-two victory for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM since 1988.

It was the sixth consecutive Mercedes victory at their home race in Hockenheim (opener and finale), and their third win in a row at a DTM season opener (Paffett 2010 and 2012, and Bruno Spengler, 2011). Overall since 1988, Mercedes-Benz has won 32 of 65 DTM races at the Hockenheimring. During the same period, Mercedes-Benz drivers were victorious 166 times in 343 DTM races.

Paffett’s victory was the first success in the new DTM era in the three-way battle between the three premium brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz and the first victory for the new DTM Mercedes AMG C Coupé, the successor to the AMG Mercedes C-Class, which is the most successful vehicle in the history of the DTM with 85 victories in 159 races.

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé) advanced from 15th on the grid to finish fourth. Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) were also amongst the points, finishing seventh and eighth respectively. Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) ended the day in twelfth and 14th positions. DTM rookie Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) was forced to retire from the race.

Jamie Green set the fastest lap with a time of 1:34.901 minutes – the sixth time he has done so at Hockenheim. It is also the 36th time in 65 DTM races at this venue that a Mercedes-Benz driver has posted the fastest lap time. Nine of the last ten fastest laps here were set by a Mercedes-Benz driver.
A total of 142,000 fans attended the DTM opener at Hockenheim this weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun). Some 71,000 spectators were at the track for Sunday’s first race of the new DTM era.

Race summary
The start: Jamie Green defends his P2 off the line. Gary Paffett moves up two places to fourth. Ralf Schumacher goes up from eleventh on the grid to eighth place.
Lap 2: Paffett overtakes Edoardo Mortara (Audi) in front of the Mercedes-Benz grandstand.
Lap 4: Green overtakes lead driver, Mattias Ekström (Audi), to move into P1. Paffett quickly follows him and is now in second place.
Lap 6: Drive-through penalty for Ralf Schumacher. Christian Vietoris moves up to eighth position.
Lap 8: Green and Paffett in the lead with a half-second gap between them.
Lap 9: Vietoris overtakes Filipe Albuquerque (Audi) and is seventh.
Lap 10: The pit stop window is now open. First mandatory stop for Vietoris. Green extends his lead on Paffett to 0.7 seconds and 4.5 seconds on Ekström.
Lap 12: Schumacher pits for fresh tyres.
Lap 13: Green and Coulthard come into the pits. Paffett now leads.
Lap 14: First mandatory stop for Paffett. He retains his lead on Green.
Lap 15: Fresh tyres for Susie Wolff and DTM rookie Robert Wickens.
Lap 16: Mandatory pit stop for Roberto Merhi.
Lap 18: Paffett has built up a lead of 1.2 seconds on Green and 8.7 seconds on Ekström.
Lap 19 : Drive-through penalty for Wickens.
Lap 20: At the half-way stage, three DTM AMG Mercedes C- Coupés are in the top 5: Paffett and Green in P1 and 2, Vietoris in fifth place.
Lap 21: Second pit stop for Coulthard.
Lap 22: Final mandatory pit stop for Schumacher and Wolff.
Lap 24: Merhi and Wickens come in for second pit stop.
Lap 26: Vietoris pits from fourth position.
Lap 27: Lead driver Paffett pits for second time.
Lap 28: Last pit stop for Green. Paffett defends lead from team-mate. Vietoris in fifth place.
Lap 32: Schumacher overtakes Miguel Molina (Audi) to secure eighth place.
Lap 34: Vietoris overtakes Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) to move into fourth place.
Lap 35: Schumacher goes up into P7, in front of Coulthard.
Lap 38: Merhi retires in the pits.
Final lap (Lap 40): After 40 laps and a total distance of 182.96 kilometres, Gary Paffett wins the 2012 DTM season opener at Hockenheim from Jamie Green. Christian Vietoris, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard finish in P4, P7 and P8 respectively.

Comments after the race:
Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Winner:
„What a fantastic start to the new DTM era. Many thanks to the team for their hard work – my THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was tuned perfectly. After a difficult season in 2011, I am pleased to have found the way back to the podium top spot. I’ve always believed in the team and my speed and that’s now paid off. The scrap with Jamie was really exciting and always very fair, which is exactly how racing should be, simply terrific!“

Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Second:
„Second place on the podium – what a great way to start the 2012 season! The setup of my Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was perfect for today’s race, so a big ‘thank you’ to my team. I got off to a great start and was able to overtake Mattias Ekström early on to take the lead. The contest with Gary was exciting and always very fair. His first pit stop was even faster than mine, so he came out of the pit lane ahead of me. Even so, I’m well satisfied with my second place and am delighted with the one-two win for Mercedes-Benz in the first race of the season.“

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé), Fourth:
„I had a terrific race at the season opener. After qualifying, I would never have dreamt that I could move up from 15th position to fourth, but my C-Coupé was really well prepared and very fast. The pit crew too did their work brilliantly. Overall, it was a great team effort and I’m also very pleased for Gary and Jamie and their one-two victory.“

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Seventh:
„This was a thrilling and exciting start to the new DTM era. I think that the race made exciting entertainment for the many fans in the stands and at home watching on TV. My result could have been better, but I made a mistake and got a penalty, which I have to accept. My pace was good, so I’m really looking forward to the race next weekend at the Lausitzring.“

David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Eighth:
„A P8 finish and three points in the first race of the season is a good result for me. After all the uncertainty in the winter, it was good to actually drive the car under race conditions and to find out where we are relative to the opposition. The one-two victory for Gary und Jamie shows that our C-Coupé is very fast. However, this competition is very tight and there is still everything to play for.“

Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Twelfth:
„What a great start to the season for Mercedes-Benz! I’m very happy for Gary and Jamie, and our team result – five C-Coupés in the Top 8 – was just fantastic. My race was predetermined to some extent since I couldn’t do much from my position on the grid, but a twelfth place from the last row is not a bad result. At the next race in Lausitz, I want to secure a better grid position and improve my placing.“

Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 14th:
„I didn’t manage to finish in the points today, unfortunately. But personally, I think 14th place at the start of the season is quite an achievement for a rookie, especially in such a hard-fought competition as this. I have learned a lot from this first race and I’m sure it will put me in good stead for the rest of the season. I’m pretty sure that with the superb support of the Mercedes team, I will continue to improve as the year progresses.“

Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), retired:
„Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the best of starts in my first DTM race. To add to that, after just five laps, I had a collision with two other cars – my car was damaged and so I was no longer able to match the pace.“

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Our new C-Coupé was really on song today. This one-two finish for Gary Paffett and Jamie Green is the best possible reward for everyone who has worked so hard on the design and construction of our new DTM C-Coupé. My thanks to everyone – that was some of the best motor racing ever. It just does not get any better, especially Jamie’s and Gary’s overtaking. Super! This represents our 100th one-two victory in the DTM. Five Mercedes AMG C-Coupés finished in the Top 8, and 65% of all the available points went to our drivers and teams. We’ve made a solid start to the new DTM.

We will now focus on the race at the Lausitzring next weekend, but first, we have a little celebrating to do with everyone who has worked so hard.”

Text: Daimler AG / Pictures: MB Passion