In the DTM season opener at Hockenheim, Christian Vietoris (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) claimed his maiden DTM podium.
Vietoris started on the prime tyres from third on the grid, completing his mandatory pit stops on Laps 6 and 33. In the closing stage of the race, he overtook fellow Mercedes driver Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) who then followed him across the finish line in fourth.
Roberto Merhi (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) began his second season in the world’s most popular touring car series by securing tenth place. For the Spaniard, this is the best result so far of his fledgling DTM career.
Mercedes-Benz juniors Pascal Wehrlein and Daniel Juncadella started their first DTM season with a strong performance, achieving eleventh and twelfth positions respectively. Wehrlein in eleventh place narrowly missed securing points in his debut race. He set two new records on his DTM debut: Today, Wehrlein officially becomes the youngest DTM driver in the history of the series, aged just 18 years and 199 days. In addition, he posted his first DTM kilometres in P1 during the race when he led the field from Lap 9 to 25, making him also the youngest driver ever to lead a race in 28 years of the DTM.
Robert Wickens (STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) retired after five laps with a technical problem. The Canadian moved up a position at the start to a place on the podium but had to park his car in the Parabolica while lying in fourth position.
Overall standings: Christian Vietoris is in third position and Gary Paffett fourth in the drivers’ standings after the first race. In the team standings, STIHL / AMG Mercedes are in third place with 28 points. In the manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-Benz is second with 28 points.
The next race: The second round of the DTM will take place at Brands Hatch (18th-19th May), and will be a home fixture for Gary Paffett. Paffett won last year’s race at the shortest track on the DTM calendar.
Comments after the Race
Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„That race was huge fun. The introduction of DRS and option tyres has given us drivers a lot more to do out on track, which makes it all the more interesting. Going into the race, I was optimistic about putting in a good performance. Because of all the different tyre strategies, it was difficult to know what your real position was. I lost some ground early on, but thanks to our excellent pit stops and a faultless drive, I was able to claw my way back and finish on the podium for the first time in my career. I’ll be delighted if the season carries on this way.“
Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„That was a tough race, but a P4 finish and my first points of the season are a reasonable outcome. Christian had the better tyres and the better strategy towards the end of the race, so congratulations to him on his first DTM podium. The two different tyre compounds and the use of DRS made for an exciting race. Unfortunately, there were some moves out on track that weren’t totally acceptable. Fourth place is OK, but I know I was capable of a better result today.“
Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„Considering that I started the race from 21st position on the grid, then I can be quite satisfied with the end result. I moved up the field a number of places at the start, but there was a problem with the tyres on my pit stop, which is why I had to come in twice in a row and had to stop three times altogether. On my final pit stop, my pit crew did a great job, producing the second fastest stop of the race. Placed tenth, I’ve secured my first championship point in the DTM – I can build on that in the next few races.“
Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„I’ll be leaving Hockenheim with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I led the race for several laps on my very first outing, which must count as a big success; on the other hand, I was starting to think that I might get a better result. The first stint of the race went really well on the soft tyres, but when I switched to the harder compound, the car didn’t feel as good as it had before. We now need to analyse the reason for that. Even so, it was a good performance to almost finish in the points on my DTM debut.“
Daniel Juncadella (21, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„I’m well satisfied with my DTM debut. The main thing was to see the finish line and so to get as much experience as possible. I’m pleased to say that I managed to do that. The result could have been better, but I drove over a kerb, which didn’t do my car any good. However, mistakes of that kind are all part of the learning process and have to be expected on your first outing. I’m going to work hard on my driving and try to learn the lessons from today in time for Brands Hatch.“
Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
„The start went well, but my accelerator pedal suddenly got stuck as I was tackling the hairpin. Luckily, I was able to avoid a collision with Bruno Spengler. But for the problem, we would have been in the points today, for sure, maybe a podium would even have been possible. It’s a pity that it didn’t come off, but the season still has a long way to go. I see no reason why we should not be up with the front-runners again at Brands Hatch. So, I’ll draw a line under this weekend and focus on the next race.“
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: „Congratulations to BMW on a strong performance and a well-deserved victory in the season opener. We now need to analyse this first race weekend and learn the lessons for future encounters. At the midway stage, the situation was looking very promising for us, but towards the end, the performance fell away for some of our cars on the hard tyres, which came as a bit of a surprise for us. Our Mercedes Juniors deserve special praise: they were brilliant in the race and have been faultless in every aspect this weekend. Christian put in a great performance to claim his maiden DTM podium, and our rookie Pascal has now had his first experience of leading the race over several laps. Unfortunately, he and Daniel were out of luck on the hard tyres towards the end, but they can travel to Brands Hatch with their heads held high.“
Pictures: MBPassion.de / Philipp Deppe