Jean Alesi Third - Bernd Schneider Fifth, Christijan Albers Ninth
Three brands in the top-three positions and within two tenths of a second
DTM championship contenders Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) and Christijan Albers (ExpressService AMG-Mercedes) will start Sunday’s tenth and final round of the 2003 season at Hockenheim from fifth and ninth position on the grid respectively.
In Saturday’s single-lap qualifying, Schneider who had set the fastest time in qualifying was the last driver on the track and set a time of 1:48.914 whilst his Dutch team mate was on a 1:50.613. Pole position went to Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) with a 1:48.389 ahead of Peter Dumbreck (Opel Astra V8 Coupé) with a 1:48.523. Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes) was third and the fastest Mercedes-Benz with a 1:48.597. Three brands within 0.208sec cover the top-three positions of the grid.
Qualifying had been interrupted four minutes from the end for about ten minutes following an accident of Manuel Reuter (Opel Astra V8 Coupé). In the remaining time, Schneider took the top spot with a 1:48.777 followed by Alesi with a 1:49.200. Gary Paffett was the fastest Mercedes-Benz driver with a last year’s CLK after setting a time of 1:50.868.
Jean Alesi, AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes, third (1: 48.597):
"Until I reached the last corner, pole position was possible today. The car’s balance was excellent and most of my lap was very good. I lost time in the third sector and in the last corner when my car came sideways on the slippery surface."
Bernd Schneider, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, fifth (1:48.914):
"In qualifying I was more than one tenth of a second faster than in the single-lap qualifying, although I damaged my car’s undertray on my last run. Thanks to the quick repairs by my mechanics this didn’t affect my Super Pole qualifying lap. However, I came sideways in the last corner and lost the momentum for a top time."
Marcel Fässler, AMG-Mercedes, eighth (1:49.850):
"In the first and second sectors my lap was not bad, but in the third sector in the Motodrom I didn’t have much grip. At least I improved from tenth to eighth place in the single-lap qualifying and was among the top-ten in every qualifying of the year."
Christijan Albers, ExpressService AMG-Mercedes, ninth (1:50.613):
"Our rain set-up was not good and I also lacked grip. Despite the ninth place of the grid I don’t give up and I’ll fight as long as I have a chance to win the title. It will be a long race tomorrow and everything is possible."
Gary Paffett, Service 24h AMG-Mercedes, 14th (1:50.868):
"On my last run I suffered from understeer and I made a mistake which cost me about one second. Otherwise eleventh place would have been possible. At least I saw that I’m fast in wet as well as in dry conditions."
Stefan Mücke, Service 24 h AMG-Mercedes, 17th (1:51.920):
"I’m not satisfied with today’s result, because my position in this morning’s Free Practice was better. In the afternoon we had the wrong strategy, because on the drying track I would have been faster after the interruption, however, I had no more laps left."
Thomas Jäger, Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, 18th (1:52.841):
"I made some mistakes and therefore didn’t find an optimum lap. Moreover I had brake problems from which we had suffered already on Friday."
Bernd Mayländer, Original-Teile AMG-Mercedes, 19th (1:52.864):
"I had only two fast laps as on my other runs I got stuck in traffic. I hope for rain on Sunday, because our prospects with last year’s car are better in the wet.”
Katsutomo Kaneishi, ARTA AMG-Mercedes, 21st (1:53.073):
"Our team had prepared the car very well, but I made some mistakes and was not able to achieve a better result."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Today we saw an exciting qualifying and good sport in difficult conditions. Jean Alesi was up by more than six tenths of second after the second sector but came sideways in the last corner of the third sector and lost time. Bernd Schneider, too, came sideways in the last corner and lost the chance for a better result. The DTM’s qualifying format proved its worth again - three brands cover the three top spots and are within two tenths of a second."