There were conflicting fortunes for the two leading Scots, Paul di Resta and David Coulthard, in qualifying ahead of tomorrow’s opening round of the DTM Championship at Hockenheim in which England’s Gary Paffett starts from pole.
While the 24-year-old from Bathgate will line up sixth on the grid, after narrowly missing out on the top four shoot-out for pole position, former Formula One ace Coulthard was second slowest on his debut for Mercedes.
“That was the best I could do, which wasn’t what I really was aiming for,” the 38-year-old, who will drive a 2008-spec car today, said after qualifying 17th, 0.673s slower than Oban’s Susie Stoddart in 15th.
“Hopefully we can get the strategy right for the race and my racing experience can help get me through the field. But I always knew the first race was going to be a steep learning curve.”
Di Resta meanwhile, second in the championship two years ago and bidding to win the title while at the same time bedding himself in with the F1 Force India team, remained quietly confident.
“I guess it took me a wee while to switch from the F1 car to the DTM car,” Di Resta explained, “but we only just missed out on the top four shoot-out. Ironically, my fastest time was quicker then the time Gary ultimately set in the shoot-out.
“We clearly have the pace to win this weekend and hopefully I can come away with at least a podium, which would be a great way to start the season. Especially considering the past two years I’ve finished fifth and 13th here.”
Merc team-mate Paffett, the 2005 champ, pipped the Audi of Martin Tomczyk by just 0.076secs. Canadian Bruno Spengler and England’s Jamie Green qualified their Mercs third and fourth with the Audi of Mattias Ekstrom completing the top five.