A first lap smash ruined Mattias Ekstrom’s challenge in the DTM race at the Norisring...
Norisring is a special venue. When you look at it you understand why NASCAR is so popular because you’re basically in an arena with a huge number of spectators and cars doing lots of laps on a very simple circuit. It’s not an oval but it has one righthand turn and three lefts, so it’s not a million miles away. It makes the racing very exciting and even though I still haven’t won there, I like it a lot.
As usual it provided a pretty interesting race. After the pace at the Red Bull Ring and testing at Lausitz we went into it with quite a lot of confidence. At the test I thought we’d taken a step in the right direction, particularly with the feeling I had behind the wheel. You can’t quantify that but I knew I was starting to get the feeling in the car that I’m looking for.
When we got to the Norisring that was proved out. I felt really confident, we were on the pace and fighting for pole. We were quickest in Q2 and Q3 and the car was right. Then in Q4 we had a couple of hiccups, things didn’t go to my liking and I finished up very disappointed. If you’re not on the pace and you qualify fourth, you can go to bed Saturday night pretty happy – if you’re fourth but had the pace to be on pole then it’s a different story.
It still might be been different in the race. Friday and Saturday had been very hot but the rain came for Sunday and everything changed. Obviously I was caught up in the big accident at the first corner. Looking at it again, I don’t think I did anything wrong – I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s always like that at a start where drivers are prepared to risk everything. I understand the desire: it’s very difficult to overtake in DTM so everyone puts everything into that first corner because making places off the line is the easiest you’re going to take places.
That said, I’m upset with Augusto [Farfus] and think he took too much risk when it was unnecessary. Watching the TV replay I think he played a big part in the accident, as did Ralf Schumacher. Certainly Gary Paffett, Jamie Green and myself were not the bad guys. The outcome was that my car was pretty badly smashed up at the left rear and right front. It’s a really disappointing end to the weekend because we never had the chance to prove what we could have done in the race – but motor racing if full of ifs and maybes.
Half the season is gone now so it’s time for us to write our mid-term report. We’ve got some time to analyse what we did right, what we did wrong and what we need to do to be more competitive in the second half of the year. There’s five races to go. We can win some of those.