Mercedes, Paffett slam 'out of order' Audi DTM tactics at Zandvoort

Mercedes driver Gary Paffett has accused Audi rival Mattias Ekstrom of "completely out of order" tactics in the Sunday DTM race at Zandvoort

Mercedes, Paffett slam 'out of order' Audi DTM tactics at Zandvoort

The Swede struggled for pace badly after his early-race pitstop and was soon backing up a train of cars.

With fellow Audi driver Nico Muller behind him, Ekstrom managed to hold station in fourth, almost a minute behind race winner Marco Wittmann.

It meant Ekstrom, who was promoted to third post-race by Wittmann's exclusion, left Zandvoort as DTM points leader.

Paffett, who finished close behind Ekstrom and Muller in sixth, believes the Swede's tactics on the final lap were "completely out of order".

"Most of the race I was sat behind Muller, he was defending Mattias' back so he was slowing down in Turn 2 and 3 on purpose to try and back me up," Paffett told Autosport.

"They were a bit quicker on the straight, so made it very difficult for me to pass him.

"And then the last couple of laps, Eki was really slow.

"I went round the outside of Muller [at Turn 1], I had already done it to [BMW driver Augusto] Farfus and I knew it could work.

"Coming out of Turn 1 I was right behind Eki and then he lifted on the straight to allow Nico to get back alongside me.

"And then we went side-by-side around Turn 2 again, me and Nico, and then immediately out of Turn 2, Mattias braked again, really hard, to let Nico get alongside him and for him to get back in front of me.

"That's not how professionals behave - we race wheel-to-wheel, we race hard, but you don't brake-test people and that's exactly what he did today, twice."

Mercedes DTM team boss Ulrich Fritz said the situation needed to be evaluated further, but added: "As far as I heard, they [the Audis] braked during the straights, and it was just difficult, I have to say, and dangerous.

"If this is the case, I think it's not acceptable."

Audi stated that Ekstrom had a left-front puncture, and that the Swede backed off in right-hand corners and at the end of the start-finish straight.

Abt team director Thomas Biermaier said: "In spite of a slow puncture, Mattias managed to bring home position four and, as a result, took the lead of the standings again.

"That's something only Eki can do."

Muller, who Audi admitted "shielded" Ekstrom in the closing stages, told Autosport it was the "only sensible thing to do".

He added on the final-lap battle: "We were side-by-side for a few corners and I think it was fair and square racing, nobody got pushed off the track, there was no contact.

"I think we entertained the crowd quite well - for me it was just how it should be."

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