Scottish F1 hopeful Paul di Resta has scored his first win of the season in his home race at Brands Hatch as the DTM touring car series visited the UK at the weekend.
Di Resta, who drives for Mercedes and who may find a place with one of the F1 teams that manufacturer supplies, drove a dominant lights-to-flag race despite two safety-car periods. It was the 23-year old’s third victory in his DTM career.
Di Resta was one of six Brits competing in the German series, which is a head-to-head between Mercedes and rival manufactuer Audi using cars of different vintages. Fourth, with the next-best Mercedes performance behind Di Resta, came McLaren test-driver Gary Paffett.
Eighth was Oliver Jarvis for Audi, while Jamie Green and Susie Stoddart were 12th and 13th for Mercedes. Katherine Legge was 15th for Audi. Di Resta and Paffett are the only ones to be driving 2009 cars, with the other four Brits all in 2008 models.
Di Resta owed his victory to a pole position and an impeccable getaway, giving himself a race-long advantage. Audi’s reigning champion and current championship leader Timo Scheider, who started second, held on to his position despite problems during both his pit stops.
In the closing stages of the race Mercedes’ Mathias Lauda hit the tyre barrier bringing the safety car out for three laps. After the re-start, Audi’s Tom Kristensen also hit the tyres and caused another safety car intervention. Nobody was hurt in either incident.
Following his victory, Di Resta said: “It couldn’t have been any better. This year, we already had a lot of bad luck and hopefully, we will be more often on the podium from now on.
“My only worry were the two safety-car interventions. But we had the speed and there was nobody who would have been able to beat us. For me, this was a special win, because I had many friends and my family supporting me here today.
“We are back, and I want to stay on the top step of the podium, because I think that is where I belong.”
The event attracted 20,400 spectators for an action-packed weekend that included a guest appearance by McLaren star and reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton, who raced on the DTM bill when he competed in Formula 3 Euro Series, made a public appearance at the Mercedes-Benz hospitality unit where he answered questions on his season and met fans at an autograph session.
He told them: “There are so many things that come into play when you’re building a car and working on a championship. The downforce on our car was very poor to begin with but we made a couple of changes and then we were right up there.
“I’m looking forward to Monza as we’re working on a new aero package and we will have new front and rear wings for that track. I hope we’re in a competitive position as I’ve never won there before – my plan is to get to the front and disappear!
“Next year’s car is going to be very special, I’m really excited about driving it.”
Hamilton then took to the track in a Mercedes C63 AMG to perform demonstration laps for the crowds. He also treated several competition winners to a thrilling ride around the Indy circuit.
Among those enjoying the prize were Phil and Carol Hindwell, who won a lap with Hamilton by booking advance tickets through the MotorSport Vision website.
Following the main event, Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug praised Di Resta’s performance: “This was a great race, especially by Paul.Today, he and his C-Class were a class of their own.
“At Brands Hatch, starting from pole isn’t an easy affair. But Paul drove in a commanding way, he was one tenth of a second faster than the rivals from Audi. It is a pity that we didn’t get a clean sweep of the podium.”
The next DTM event is due to take place at Barcelona in Spain on the weekend of September 18-20.