The Omega Seiki and J.K.Tyre backed driver had one of his most productive weekends at the penultimate round of the 2021 DTM Championship with the Mercedes man firmly establishing himself at the front of the field.
Maini looked a good bet to secure his first podium finish of the season after a strong first free practice session that left him at the top of the standings for the first time this year. The result gave Maini the confidence to experiment with his car's setup during the weekend's second practice session before the Indian claimed a stunning fifth place during the weekend's first qualifying session.
Unfortunately, Maini failed to capitalize on his strong pace with the usually composed Mercedes driver, making a rare driving error as the field made its way towards the circuit's hairpin on the first lap. The Mercedes man misjudged his braking and he careened into the fellow Mercedes driver Lucas Auer, with the ensuing impact ending his race prematurely. The mistake also earned Maini a five-place grid penalty with the ramifications coming during the weekend's second qualifying session.
Despite the previous day's events, Maini put in an impeccable performance during Qualifying 2, with the Indian claiming third overall, missing out on pole by just .11 of a second. However, the penalty meant he would ultimately start eighth and despite gambling on an alternate strategy that saw him pit later than the drivers around him, Maini ended the race in P7 on the Track. However, due to a 5-sec Pitstop infringement penalty the Indian Driver ultimately finished in P8.
"The weekend was a mixed bag for me," Maini stated.
"We definitely had the pace for a top-five finish and I accept full responsibility for the incident down at the hairpin. I apologized to Lucas [Auer] after the race and the penalty definitely compromised my second race.
"Despite the end result there are a lot of positives to take away from the weekend and I feel that both my overall pace and performance have improved significantly since the season started."
"We head to the Norisring for the final round of the championship and I'm hoping both my GetSpeed Racing Team and I can end the season strongly."
Despite the end result, the DTM rookie performed admirably over the course of the weekend. The Norisring is a track Maini has previously raced on and given his season so far, a strong end to his first year in Germany's premier racing series is a definite possibility.
The DTM finale will take place in a week's time on October 8-10, 2021.
Source: Media Release