Häkkinen flies from 15th on the grid at Mugello
The asphalt was glowing at Mugello during the sixth DTM round of the season. With air temperatures of almost 40 degrees, the spectators got to see a turbulent race with an overjoyed Mika Häkkinen (FIN), who went on to win the race after a great recovery from 15th place on the grid. It was the second victory of the season for the Mercedes-Benz driver. “It was a fantastic race and it was great fun”, the 38-year old Finn said, delighted but visibly affected by the heat.
Second place went to Mattias Ekström (S) with the Audi A4 DTM, who started from pole position. At the finish line, he was 0.371 seconds down on Häkkinen. The Swede scored eight championship points for his race result and thus took over the lead in the drivers’ standings. Third place in the race at the longest circuit on the DTM calendar (5.245 kilometres) was occupied by Paul di Resta. With his 2005-spec AMG Mercedes C-Class, the Scot climbed up from twelfth on the grid to finish on the podium.
An early second pit stop and a safety car phase at the right time brought valuable points in the championship for Häkkinen at Mugello. Shortly after his fellow Mercedes-Benz driver, Alexandros Margaritis, had slid off the track into the gravel trap, the former Formula 1 world champion made his second mandatory pit stop on lap 13. The safety car was deployed and led the field for three laps on the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello. During this time, on lap 15, all other drivers came in for their second pit stop. Häkkinen, who had already completed his two mandatory stops, stayed on the track, overtook the entirefield and took the lead that he wasn’t to lose anymore until the 33 lap race was over.
For Audi, the race didn’t go as planned. Having started from first through fifth place, only the new points leader Ekström was able to use his favourable grid position. Problems during the pit stop made Tom Kristensen (DK), who had started second, drop back to eighth. Martin Tomczyk (D) and Timo Scheider (D), who had started from third and fourth place respectively, were early retirements. The three Audi drivers Christian Abt (D), Mike Rockenfeller (D) and Alexandre Prémat (F) set their fastest sector times under yellow and were given a drive-through-penalty as a result. Behind the Mercedes-Benz duo of Bruno Spengler (C) and Daniel la Rosa (D), Rockenfeller finished sixth while fellow Audi-driver Prémat was seventh. Abt retired after a collision.
Markus Winkelhock finished a considerable ninth. The son of Manfred Winkelhock only took over the cockpit previously occupied by Adam Carroll at Audi’s customer team, Futurecom TME. Susie Stoddart was also happy with her result: for the Mercedes-Benz lady racer, tenth place was her best finish of the season so far.
In the battle for the title, Ekström is leading with 32 points. His closest rivals are Schneider at 25.5 and Spengler at 22 points. After his victory, Häkkinen is fifth with 20 points, just behind his fellow Mercedes-Benz driver, Di Resta. The seventh DTM round of the season will be taking place at Zandvoort in The Netherlands from July 27th till 29th.
Mika Häkkinen (winner, AMG Mercedes C-Class): “It was a fantastic race and it was great fun. Before the race, I told an acquaintance: You know, I see a chance of winning today. And now look: here I am on the top step of the podium. Life is just amazing. Anyone who doesn’t give up, gets the reward.”
Mattias Ekström (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline): “I am very happy with my performance and my car. I had a good start and good pit stops, but I was unlucky with the safety car phase. I didn’t risk everything to attack Mika, as the track was very slippery and dirty off the ideal line. The points for the title and the lead in the championship were important.”
Paul di Resta (3rd place, JAWA4U.de AMG Mercedes C-Class): “When anyone would have told me before today’s race that I would finish third, surely I wouldn’t have believed it. The safety car phase helped me a lot to get up to the front. My team has done a perfect job during the pit stops. Three podium finishes from six races are almost too good to believe.“
Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug: This really was a crazy race. I had never expected Mika Häkkinen being able to win from 15th place on the grid. He has shown a fantastic performance. At the Norisring, he was the loser of the safety car phase, here he is the winner. He really has deserved this win. I feel sorry for Audi as they would have deserved a better result, because in fact, they were superior. Only Mattias Ekström can be happy. He is now leading the championship by six and a half points. That is a comfortable margin in the DTM.”
Audi motorsport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “I am happy that Mattias Ekström finished second, has scored points and is leading the championship. Of course, I am not really happy with the race result in general. Although we still were having a good speed, we just weren’t good enough. We have made too many little errors. But now, this day is behind us and we are looking ahead.”
Pos Driver Car Time/Behind
1. Mika Hakkinen Mercedes 1h03:10.117
2. Mattias Ekstrom Audi + 0.371
3. Paul Di Resta Mercedes + 3.198
4. Bruno Spengler Mercedes + 8.722
5. Daniel La Rosa Mercedes + 9.420
6. Mike Rockenfeller Audi + 10.073
7. Alexandre Premat Audi + 11.975
8. Tom Kristensen Audi + 12.251
9. Markus Winkelhock Audi + 16.558
10. Susie Stoddart Mercedes + 22.144
11. Bernd Schneider Mercedes + 26.877
12. Mathias Lauda Mercedes + 7 laps
Driver Car Laps
Martin Tomczyk Audi 16
Gary Paffett Mercedes 16
Christian Abt Audi 16
Alex Margaritis Mercedes 12
Vanina Ickx Audi 4
Jamie Green Mercedes 3
Lucas Luhr Audi 1