Spa-Francorchamps – the analysis, part 1
Last weekend, DTM made its Spa-Francorchamps debut. For the first time in the history of the rich in tradition Belgian GP circuit, DTM car chased in anger through its world famous bends and corners such as ‘Eau Rouge’ or ‘Bus Stop Chicane’. And the race at the 6.976-kilometre Ardennes rollercoaster turned out to also be a premier for Mika Häkkinen. DTM’s newest idol of the public grabbed the pole on Saturday and secured his maiden DTM win on Sunday – a perfect weekend for the ‘Flying Finn’. While reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström (Sweden) and Denmark’s Tom Kristensen finished second and third respectively, thus making it an all Scandinavian podium. dtm.de has taken a close look at the performances of teams and drivers.
Mika Häkkinen: he came, saw and conquered. In the third DTM round, held at Spa, the DTM rookie was the measure of all things. On Saturday, the two-time F1 World Champion succeeded in sensationally securing the pole position. Hampered by 20 kilos ballast weight, his start into the race was moderate and he dropped back to second place behind reigning champion Mattias Ekström. But after the first set of pit stops, Mika took the lead, fended off all the overtaking efforts of the Swede and in the closing stages, he controlled the field to clinch a superior victory.
Mattias Ekström: finally, the reigning DTM Champion has succeeded in taking his first podium finish in the 2005 season. The Swede made a fantastic start and took the lead before the field entered ‘La Source’ for the first time. Yet, he lost his lead when his team made a mistake during his first pit stop. The Swede drove a great race and displayed a lot of fighting spirit, but at the end of the day he had to accept that Mika was just too strong, this Sunday in the Ardennes.
Tom Kristensen: Tom Kristensen’s Super Pole performance wasn’t perfect. Having been sixth fastest he had to settle for third row of the grid, and on his in-lap, he spun off the track. But in the race, the Dane made a great start to leap up to fourth position. Later, he got the upper hand in his spectacular battle with Marcel Fässler – and completed the all Scandinavian podium by finishing third.
Jean Alesi: the Franco-Italian made a mistake in the Super Pole session and had to make to with eighth position on the grid. But he drove a flawless race, worked his way up to fourth place, thus just missing the podium. Had he succeeded in securing a better grid position, an even better result might have been possible.
L Marcel Fässler: Marcel Fässler once again proved to be the best Opel driver. The Swiss was fifth on the grid and in the race, he held third position up to the first set of pit stops. Afterwards, he wasn’t able to make perfect use of his tyres and finished fifth.
Martin Tomczyk: in the qualifying session, Martin Tomczyk turned out to be too careful. Furthermore, he missed the right point in time to set a fast lap, in the wet session, and finished only 14th. In the race, however, the crowds witnessed a completely different Martin Tomczyk: thanks to great fighting spirit, he worked his way up to the points by gaining eight places, with a perfect pit strategy contributing to his successful race.
Laurent Aiello: bad luck in the Super Pole session. He was on the way to set an extremely fast lap but had to abandon it due to yellow flags; and in his second effort, he was only seventh fastest. During the start, the 2002 champion opted for avoiding the first-corner turmoil and dropped back by three positions. But in the battle with Bernd Schneider he kept the upper hand, at any time. Finished seventh from seventh grid position – a better result could have been possible.
Gary Paffett: bad luck in the qualifying session. The Briton set the tenth fastest time but seriously damaged his car’s rear, therefore, he couldn’t contest the Super pole. From his tenth grid position, he pushed Kaffer off the track and was penalised with a drive-thru penalty. At the end of the day, the EuroSpeedway winner benefited from the crash of his brand-mate, Bernd Schneider, and scored a point. Defended his championship lead in spite of a moderate race performance.
L Alexandros Margaritis: at Spa-Francorchamps, the 2004 spec cars were less successful than in the previous two rounds, with Alex Margaritis, the best driver of a 2004 spec car, finishing ninth. In the course of the race, the Greek gained six positions and set the fastest top speed (267kph). A great performance.
Christian Abt. great qualifying, poor race. Christian Abt failed to score points from his third grid position and finished tenth. Right at the start, he was passed by Fässler and later in lap one, Kristensen also overtook the German. And when he was penalised with a drive-thru penalty for having crossed the white line at the pit-lane exit, his hopes for points were over. A poor race.