Perfect end to the anniversary weekend as the Mercedes Juniors Robert Wickens (STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Christian Vietoris (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Daniel Juncadella (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) achieve a triple victory at the season standout event at the Norisring in Nuremberg in front of 126,000 spectators who attended over the entire race weekend.
It was the first victory for a Mercedes Junior in the world’s most popular touring car series and doubly important, as it marks the 25th anniversary of the brand with the three-pointed star in the DTM. Since the first works entry on 3rd March 1988, Mercedes-Benz drivers have won 170 out of 358 races in the DTM/ITC.
Four of the five Mercedes-Benz Juniors secured places in the top sixth at the Norisring. After achieving a third at Brands Hatch, Canadian driver Wickens finished on the podium for the second time this year. After the season opener at Hockenheim and the Lausitzring, this was the third podium finish of the season for Vietoris. Vietoris also set the fastest lap time of 48.572 seconds at the Norisring on Lap 9.
In his fifth DTM race, Spanish driver Juncadella secured his first podium finish in the series behind his two Mercedes-Benz team mates. Roberto Merhi (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), also from Spain, finished in the points in P6 at the home race of his car’s sponsor, THOMAS SABO, whose headquarters are in Lauf an der Pegnitz, not far from Nuremberg.
Gary Paffett’s race came to an abrupt end on the last couple of laps after a double collision with Audi driver Edoardo Mortara, just as he seemed destined for a podium finish. The most successful of the current crop of DTM drivers was classed 17th. Paffett got both of his mandatory pit stops out of the way during a safety car period, and his long stint on the prime tyres gave him an excellent chance of victory, despite a drive-through penalty for jumping the lights. Pascal Wehrlein (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) developed problems with the rear axle of his car after making contact with the wall and had to retire from the race.
Overall standings: At the halfway point in the 2013 DTM campaign, Christian Vietoris (58 points), Robert Wickens (52 points) and Gary Paffett (47 points) occupy positions three to five in the drivers’ standings. STIHL/AMG Mercedes lead the team competition on a score of 110 points. Mercedes-Benz is currently lying second in the constructors’ championship on 192 points.
The next race: The sixth race weekend of the season will be staged from 3th to 4th August 2013, as the DTM debuts at the Moscow Raceway in Russia.
Comments after the Race
Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Winner
“My first DTM victory, even though I’ve had to wait to get the result confirmed, I am, of course, thrilled to bits. Nevertheless, it was a close-fought race. There were two safety car periods, and we changed strategy after the second safety car phase, which my team and I thought would be good tactics. I started from pole, was in 14th place for a time and ultimately won the race – it was a tough race, but I overtook a few cars and enjoyed the feeling. Congratulations to our team: Four drivers in the points is a good team result. It’s just a shame what happened to Gary at the end of the race, but I’m happy with my result.”
Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 2nd place
“After the difficulties I had on Saturday, that was a good race from my perspective. Although I was unable to extract the full potential from my car in qualifying, our strategy in today’s race paid off. I’d like to thank my team for doing such a fantastic job. They sent me back out on the option tyres, which gave me excellent pace. It meant I was able to battle my way up to the front towards the end when a lot of the other drivers were developing problems with their brakes and tyres. The high temperatures didn’t cause me any difficulties during the race. Although my water bottle wasn’t working, I didn’t experience any physical problems over the 83 laps.”
Daniel Juncadella (22, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 3rd place
“The start didn’t go too well for me, and I got off the line relatively slowly. We now need to look into the reasons for that. Then, I just concentrated on avoiding collisions and on keeping my cool, because a race at the Norisring involves a lot of laps and there is always plenty of scope for surprises. We had a really strong strategy, and my race pace on the option tyres was fantastic. I didn’t push at any stage but just controlled my speed to conserve the tyres. Unfortunately, I made a minor error when I was just behind Gary, which left a gap for Christian and Mike Rockenfeller to get through. However, it didn’t matter in the end. I am really thrilled with my first podium in the DTM. I feel sorry for Gary, because that was a completely unnecessary manoeuvre from Edoardo Mortara.”
Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 6th place
“An interesting race with the safety car coming out twice and at times, I didn’t know what position I was actually in. My start was pretty good and I moved up a few positions. I was really fast in the early stages of the race. Then I drove a long stint on the option tyres, so I was not quite as fast towards the end of the race. It’s a great result to have finished the race in sixth place, having started from P20. However, I had hoped for more, and will do everything possible to achieve a better position on the grid for the start of the next race at the Moscow Raceway. My THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé functioned faultlessly today, so I can’t wait for the next fixture.”
Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 17th place
“That certainly wasn’t the outcome that I’d had in mind. From my perspective, it was a difficult race involving two safety car phases, a drive-through penalty and an enforced change of strategy. Even so, I was in with a chance of the win right through to the last couple of laps. I overtook Edoardo Mortara on his final pit stop, but then he misbraked and drove into the back of me. He was clearly at fault. When we collided for the second time, I was on the inside and he drove into me again. Unfortunately, that was definitely not the way I wanted today’s race to turn out. But there is still everything to play for. After all, it’s only the halfway point in the DTM season, but the fact is that I’ve lost vital points today in the title chase.”
Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): retired
„It’s disappointing that I had to drop out of the race prematurely, especially after making such a good start, moving up to third position. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a problem with my first change of tyres, and things didn’t get any better for me after that. Now it’s time to draw a line under events in this race and aim to do better next time. I was in a scrap with Molina, who was to my left, as I made a move to pass on turn two. We made contact, which resulted in me hitting the wall on turn three.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Following the stewards’ decision, I would wish to congratulate Robert on his maiden DTM victory. Three Mercedes Juniors in the top three places – that’s a very good result. Robert, Christian and Daniel produced an incredibly strong performance to mark the 25th anniversary of our brand in the DTM which we celebrated this weekend in Nuremberg along with many legendary Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers. Our decision to promote young drivers was actually made for the long-term, but it is now already paying dividends this season. Roberto rounded off this result with sixth place and Pascal too could have been up there among the front-runners but for the problems he suffered – still, all things considered, this is a good team result for Mercedes-Benz. For us, it was a bitter blow to see Gary knocked out of the race just before the end. The important thing is that spectators here at the Norisring and sitting at home in front of their TV sets have seen an incredibly exciting and entertaining touring car race. This race was the best advertisement ever for the DTM.”
Source: Mercedes-Benz Motorsport / Pictures: MBpassion.de