Jean Alesi Third in his DTM Debut Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) drove his Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM to a third-place finish in the 2002 DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring's short circuit. Jean came home ten seconds behind winner Laurent Aiello ...
Jean Alesi Third in his DTM Debut
Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) drove his Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM to a third-place finish in the 2002 DTM season opener at the Hockenheimring's short circuit. Jean came home ten seconds behind winner Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R), was the best Mercedes driver and achieved a podium finish in his first DTM race. Defending champion Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) finished fourth.
Marcel Fässler (Warsteiner AMG-Mercedes) had qualified ninth and was the best Mercedes-Benz driver in the qualifying race, finishing in sixth position. He was followed by Peter Dumbreck (Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes) and Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes). The Frenchman improved from his 14th qualifying position to ninth at the first standing start in DTM history. Victory in the 13-lap qualifying race went to Martin Tomczyk (Abt-Audi TT-R).
In the main event, Jean again started fast. He was fourth into the first corner, passed Christian Abt and was third at the end of the opening lap. On lap 6, Abt re-passed the Frenchman after touching the rear of his car. By lap 22, all drivers had made their compulsory pit stops and Jean was now in fourth place behind Aiello, Ekström and Abt, who went into the pits for a stop-and-go penalty on lap 28. Jean was now third and maintained this position until the chequered flag.
"I'm very happy with my first podium finish since the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix," Jean said. "In both races I started really well and that helped me to finish third. In the qualifying race, I followed Bernd for five laps and learned something from him. In the race, I therefore avoided the mistakes I made in practice."
Bernd Schneider was seventh in the qualifying race until lap five when Karl Wendlinger (Abt-Audi TT-R) spun in front of him and he had to slow down to avoid him. In the main event he came home fourth. "After seventh position on the grid I finished better than expected," Bernd said. "This was the result of our team's efforts. Especially our pit stop was very good." Marcel Fässler (Warsteiner AMG-Mercedes) spun on lap 12 at the end of the back straight. "I had no brake pressure at the front and the rear wheels locked," he said. "Therefore I slid into the tyre barrier." His Warsteiner AMG-Mercedes team mate Uwe Alzen finished eleventh after being pushed off the dirty track on lap 33 and touching the tyre barrier.
Thomas Jäger (Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes) finished eighth. His team mate Peter Dumbreck slid off the track at the same place like Alzen and hit the tyre barrier. "That was pretty hard, but fortunately I'm fine," he said. Service 24h AMG-Mercedes driver Stefan Mücke was twelfth in the race's first third. After his tyre change on lap 22 his clutch failed and the engine stalled. Stefan was push started by his mechanics and lost several positions. After his stop he was pushed into a spin by Alain Menu (Opel Astra V8 Coupé) at the Sachs corner, Stefan returned to the pits and retired. His team mate Christijan Albers retired on lap 28 due to a problem with the fuel pressure.
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director Norbert Haug commented: "Jean and Bernd performed well. They made the best out of their poor grid positions 14 and seven. Regarding the qualifying result, Jean's third-place finish and Bernd's fourth position are reasonable. Today, the DTM started with an exciting race and an enthusiastic crowd into a promising season."