Nürburgring analysis, part 1 | DTM
2005-08-11 18:24:20

Nürburgring analysis, part 1

Nürburgring analysis, part 1

Following the seventh round of the 2005 DTM season, held at the Nürburgring, the battle for the title is closer than ever, with the two chief characters, reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström and his closest rival, Gary Paffett, being split by just one point, following the thrilling race at the Eifel circuit. While Ekström secured his second win in the season, Paffett had to settle for third place. Following two fluffed races, Tom Kristensen redeemed himself and finished third to consolidate his third championship position. Rain, wind, sunshine – the changeable conditions at the Eifel turned the seventh round of the season into a true tyre gamble for teams and drivers. www.dtm.de has taken a close look at the performance of teams and drivers throughout the entire Nürburgring weekend:

RMattias Ekström: The Swede’s goal for the Nürburgring round: to regain the championship lead. And so he did. Ekström holds a one-point lead over second placed Paffett, thus making the battle for the title extremely thrilling. Having been the quickest in the qualifying session, Ekström was defeated by Paffett and Häkkinen in the Super Pole and hat to settle for third grid position. In the race, he fended off all the attacks of Bernd Schneider, and a great strategy and a quick second pit stop helped him to move up to second place, in the middle of the race. Yet, he wasn’t able to close in on Paffett who had already opened a gap on the rest of the field. At the end of the day, however, he benefited from a Drive-Thru penalty for his championship rival. A dose of luck is also a must, on the way to success.
Grade: 2

Tom Kristensen: In the previous races, the Dane had secured two pole positions but failed to secure a podium finish. At the Nürburgring he wasn’t the pole-sitter – and made it to the rostrum. In the qualifying session, Kristensen finished second but in the Super Pole, he was seven tenth of a second slower than before and had to make do with sixth position on the grid. Kristensen drove a rather unspectacular race, benefited just as Ekström from Paffett’s Drive-Thru penalty – and finished second.
Grade: 2

Gary Paffett: The unlucky fellow of the weekend. In the Super Pole, the Briton was clearly faster than the rest of the field and secured pole in superior style. In the race, Paffett also seemed to be on the way to outclass his opponents by continuously setting great lap times, thus opening a gap on the rest of the field. Everything went according to plan, but all of a sudden, in lap 26, drama struck. At first, the Briton lost valuable seconds by stopping in front of the wrong garage. And then, on his way to rejoining the race, he crossed the white line at the pit-lane exit and was penalised with a Drive-Thru penalty. He rejoined the action in fourth place and only in the very last lap he made it back to the podium by passing his brand-mate Mika Häkkinen at the Mercedes-Arena – with the Fin not really trying very hard to defend his position. Not the race of ‘Mr Perfect’.
Grade: 4

Mika Häkkinen: Following three consecutive retirements, Mika Häkkinen finally succeeded in making it to the finish line, at the Nürburgring. In the qualifying, he finished tenth to just make it to the Super Pole, but there, he delivered in fine style and secured second position on the grid. For 24 laps, Mika held second place, behind Paffett. Following his second pit stop, he lost this second position to Ekström, and when he tried to attack the Swede, in lap 29, he made a braking mistake. During this excursion to the run-off area, he was also passed by Kristensen. In the final lap, he yielded his third place to Paffett. A great Super Pole performance, a not too convincing race – but a true team player.
Grade: 3

Bernd Schneider: From his fourth grid position, the DTM Record Champion could match the pace of the leaders, in the opening stages. Yet, following his first tyre change, the Monaco based German was hampered by understeer. Thanks to a perfect pit stop in lap ten, he could pass the winner-to-be, Ekström, but on the track he wasn’t able to keep the Swede in check. At the end of the day, he finished fifth.
Grade: 3

Allan McNish: In the first half of the race, the Audi works driver, who had opted for a wet weather set-up, was happy with the handling of his car and could even temporarily pressurise Tom Kristensen. But when the track started to dry, the Scotsman’s chase was stopped as he suffered from a lack of grip. Nevertheless, McNish, who had been eighth on the grid, finished sixth.
Grade: 3

Jean Alesi: Due to a throttle problem in the qualifying session, the Frenchman failed to take his AMG-Mercedes C-Class to the Super Pole and qualified 13th. “As always, I’ll give my very best to work my way up,” he said after the qualifying. And so he did. During the course of the first nine laps, he worked his way up to eighth place, behind McNish. In the last third of the race, Alesi once again appeared in the mirrors of the Scotsman but didn’t find a way to pass him. Seventh place and two points.
Grade: 2

Jamie Green: Jamie Green finished eleventh in the qualifying session, thus also missing the Super Pole. In the opening stages, the Briton made up ground, but in lap three, he couldn’t prevent Alesi from passing him. For a long time, Green was eleventh behind Frentzen, and only in lap 22, when the German made a braking mistake at the Mercedes-Arena, he succeeded in passing him for tenth place. During the second set of pit stops, the reigning Formula 3 Euro Series Champion gained another two positions – but a better result than eighth place was out of his reach.
Grade: 3

RLaurent Aiello: In the Super Pole, the 2002 DTM Champion qualified fifth, thus even improving his qualifying result by two positions. In the race, everything went fine for the Frenchman until he came in for his first pit stop. His first stop cost him two positions, and when an air wrench failed during his second stop he lost his chances on scoring points. Aiello dropped back to eleventh place, and in the closing stages, he was also passed by Green.
Grade: 4

Christian Abt: Once again, the man from the Allgäu region proved to be the best of the 2004 spec car drivers. In the qualifying session, he sensationally finished third, in the Super Pole, however, he had to settle for ninth grid position. Abt’s start behind the Safety-Car was poor – when he crossed the line for the first time, his gap to the driver in front of him, McNish, added up to 29 seconds. Following lap two, Abt had even dropped back to twelfth place. At the end of the day, he finished tenth.
Grade: 4

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