In the first qualifying of the new season, Mercedes-Benz Junior Team members Christian Vietoris (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Robert Wickens (STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) booked the second row of the grid. Five of the six Mercedes-Benz drivers qualified in the Top Ten, including DTM rookies Pascal Wehrlein and Daniel Juncadella.
Vietoris posted the third-fastest lap in the final shootout: 1:36.194 minutes. His team-mate, Robert Wickens, set a time of 1:36.920 minutes to claim fourth place. Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:40.496 minutes) narrowly missed out on going through to Q4 on a drying track. The 2012 championship runner-up will be starting from sixth on the grid in tomorrow’s season opener.
The two DTM rookies Pascal Wehrlein (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:41.337 minutes) and Daniel Juncadella (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:43.775 minutes) start their first DTM race from positions eight and ten respectively. Wehrlein even managed to secure the fastest lap time in the second qualifying session. On Sunday, aged 18 years and 199 days, he will become the youngest competitor of all time in the history of the DTM.
Roberto Merhi (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) spun off track in the wet during the first qualifying session, sustaining damage to some of the car’s aerodynamic components. He was able to continue but, placed 20th with a time of 1:50.810 minutes, he did not progress to Q2.
Looking ahead to the race: The first race of the season at Hockenheim on Sunday (beginning at: 13:15 CET, live on ARD. New start time this season for the race: 13:30 CET) will be run over 42 laps, covering a total distance of 192.108km.
Comments after Qualifying
Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„Third on the grid is a good launch pad for this opening race of the season. We found it difficult to weigh up the relative strengths of the teams after the test sessions, and even this morning when we had all that rain, it wasn’t easy to compare the pace of the cars. Consequently, I’m all the more satisfied with third place. The guys have done a fantastic job, and under very difficult conditions, they made the right choice on the tyres and the timing. My DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé has been fast all day, which made me optimistic even before qualifying that I might get through to Q4. Even though I could possibly have taken more risks on my lap in the final session, I still met my target and I’m very happy. We can feel very satisfied to have got five Mercedes-Benz drivers into the Top Ten.“
Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„The season-opener has gone very well for me so far. I hope it continues like this. Conditions made today’s qualifying very tough, and not only was speed of the essence but also getting the right timing was crucial. My team and I did everything right and I succeeded in going through to Q4 for the first time. The second row is a good starting position for the race.“
Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„We were running well in all conditions. It was definitely the right decision to change to slicks. Unfortunately, the track dried out more quickly than we thought it would and the others simply did better with timing. We certainly had the pace for pole position but to finish sixth is not a bad result, given the tough conditions in this qualifying.“
Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„We had difficult conditions in qualifying today. Our times in Q1 and Q2 proved that our car is fast. When I crossed the finish line in Q3, I was just a few seconds off being able to put in another flying lap. That was a shame, because I think that Q4 was definitely within the bounds of possibility. But all the same, P8 in my first qualifying is a respectable result.“
Daniel Juncadella (21, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„To progress into Q3 at my first DTM qualifying is a really nice surprise. Q1 and Q2 went well, even though both times I had cars in front of me on the final lap. Unfortunately, I had a bit of bad luck in Q3. Timing was not ideal, so I could only post one lap on slicks. Nevertheless, we as a team can be pleased with the results. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow, when it should be dry.“
Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„Sadly, that was not my best qualifying session. Track conditions were very tough – it was extremely wet and slippery. Unfortunately, I ran far too wide over the kerbs and lost control of the car. I subsequently spun off track and did some damage. As a result, I could not improve my time sufficiently to make it through into Q2, which would certainly have been a distinct possibility otherwise. Too bad! I’ll now have to attack in the race and try to achieve the best result I can from my position on the grid.“
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
„This was a strong team performance from our drivers in the first qualifying session of the year. Five Mercedes-Benz drivers, including four of our Mercedes-Benz Junior drivers made it into the Top 10. This is the first proof that we are on the right track with our philosophy of focusing on promising young drivers. Roberto Merhi lost control of his car in difficult conditions, which is part and parcel of the learning process in the DTM. But I am certain that we will see good race results from all of our drivers in the future and maybe even podiums. Christian drove a superb qualifying under difficult conditions. Now in his third DTM season, he has the experience and speed to be up there with the front-runners. Unfortunately, Gary had some bad luck with the timing. In these changeable conditions, the smallest details can make a big difference. Starting from sixth position on the grid, however, he’s still got every chance in the race of finishing on the podium.“
Source: Mercedes DTM / Pictures: MBpassion-Philipp Deppe