Hockenheim DTM: Paffett takes pole for season opener
Mercedes began its final DTM season by taking pole in the first qualifying session at Hockenheim through its 2005 champion Gary Paffett.
Paffett's benchmark 1m32.264s was over one and a half seconds slower than last year's Saturday pole time thanks to the new standardised aero package and simplified suspension.
The fastest lap was set during the first flying runs and was 0.2s quicker than earlier challenger and Mercedes stablemate Lucas Auer.
By the end of the first runs, Mercedes had three cars in the top six as Audi had just one driver, defending champion Rene Rast, inside the top 10.
Paffett failed to improve his time in the second run but two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann set three personal best sectors to climb to second, trailing the pole time by just 0.199s.
Timo Glock took the final qualifying point by placing his BMW in third ahead of Lucas Auer.
Former Sauber Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein began his DTM comeback with fifth, having been second in the morning's practice session that proved far more representative than the first on Friday.
Augusto Farfus was sixth ahead of Mercedes' Edoardo Mortara and BMW teammate Bruno Spengler.
Rast's title defence began with ninth in qualifying after he ended his first run inside the top six.
Joel Eriksson was 10th for BMW ahead of Audi's Mike Rockenfeller and Paul di Resta. Audi's Loic Duval is competing in both the World Endurance Championship and the DTM this weekend and returned to Hockenheim to qualify 16th.
That was two places higher than the seventh Audi entry of two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom as the Swede enters his farewell event.
|1||Gary Paffett||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||6||1'32.264|
|2||Marco Wittmann||BMW M4 DTM||7||1'32.463||0.199|
|3||Timo Glock||BMW M4 DTM||8||1'32.468||0.204|
|4||Lucas Auer||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||8||1'32.484||0.220|
|5||Pascal Wehrlein||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||8||1'32.486||0.222|
|6||Augusto Farfus||BMW M4 DTM||10||1'32.683||0.419|
|7||Edoardo Mortara||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||9||1'32.719||0.455|
|8||Bruno Spengler||BMW M4 DTM||9||1'32.776||0.512|
|9||René Rast||Audi RS5 DTM||8||1'32.780||0.516|
|10||Joel Eriksson||BMW M4 DTM||10||1'32.794||0.530|
|11||Mike Rockenfeller||Audi RS5 DTM||10||1'32.811||0.547|
|12||Paul di Resta||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||7||1'32.841||0.577|
|13||Daniel Juncadella||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||9||1'32.889||0.625|
|14||Nico Müller||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'32.986||0.722|
|15||Philipp Eng||BMW M4 DTM||10||1'32.990||0.726|
|16||Loic Duval||Audi RS5 DTM||10||1'33.036||0.772|
|17||Robin Frijns||Audi RS5 DTM||10||1'33.094||0.830|
|18||Mattias Ekström||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'33.174||0.910|
|19||Jamie Green||Audi RS5 DTM||9||1'33.250||0.986|
DTM 2018 driver-by-driver season preview
Hockenheim DTM: Paffett resists Auer’s challenge for win