9th place - a disappointing result for Gary Paffett at Red Bull Ring in Austria
Mercedes-Benz driver Gary Paffett was disappointed to come away from the Red Bull Ring in Austria with a ninth place finish to show for his efforts during round three of the DTM season this afternoon, having had the pace to challenge for his first podium of 2013.
Noting a marked improvement in pace compared to the previous round at Brands Hatch in the UK, the 2005 DTM Champion was pleased with the speed of his Mercedes but a costly, and debatable, time penalty impacted the end result. Paffett ended the weekend seventh in the driver standings.
Challenging fellow Mercedes driver Robert Wickens and BMW’s Martin Tomczyk as he sought to make more gains on the opening lap, Paffett was elbowed out as they ran three abreast at Turn Three and dropped to ninth.
Running on the softer ‘option’ Hankook tyres during the opening stint, the Bromley-born racer managed to complete 29 laps before making his first pit-stop, at which point he was running in second position. However, a questionable two-second time penalty was added to his pit-stop after officials decided he was at fault for lap nine contact with Tomczyk while battling over eighth.
Rejoining the race in 11th, now on the harder compound of Hankooks, he climbed back into the top eight before his second stop, from which he again threaded back into the order in 11th position. Able to take ninth before the finish, Paffett felt somewhat aggrieved not to have taken away more points.
“We weren’t expecting great things after practice, but the car was competitive and I was pleasantly surprised. Qualifying was going well, then we had the misfire and problem with the electrics which stopped us doing a lap in Q3. That was disappointing as we had better pace than at Brands [Hatch].
“The balance of the car wasn’t bad on the option tyre, we picked up the pace towards the end of the run and did 29 laps which was just about the most of anyone. We were catching those ahead and it was all looking good, but then I got a penalty for the overtaking battle with [Martin] Tomczyk – that was questionable. Instead of costing me two seconds at the first stop, it was more like five seconds.
“Our speed on the prime tyre was good, I did a better lap on the harder tyre than the option but the five seconds we lost really cost us. We had the potential to be P6 today. We had a better qualifying car this weekend, good pace in the race and we did a lot of things right. Without the problem in qualifying, had we started in the top six, we could have challenged for the podium.”
Gary will travel to the Lausitzring in Germany for round four of the 2013 DTM season a fortnight from now, over the weekend 15th/16th June.