DTM starts its 30th anniversary season this weekend with a home race for Mercedes-Benz at Hockenheim.

2005 DTM champion Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé)) posted a lap time of 1:32.834 minutes in the second segment of qualifying and will thus start the first race of the season from grid position 15. Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein (gooix Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) booked 16th place with a time of 1:32.840 minutes.

Making his return to the DTM, Paul Di Resta (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.639 minutes) will start from position 19 in his first DTM race since winning the title in 2010. Fellow Mercedes drivers Daniel Juncadella (Petronas Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1: 33.746 minutes), Robert Wickens (FREE MAN’S WORLD Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.875 minutes), Christian Vietoris (Original-Teile Mercedes AMG C-Coupé Coupé / 1:34.242 minutes) and DTM rookie Vitaly Petrov (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:34.367 minutes) will start the race from grid positions 20 to 23 respectively.

Thinking of Michael Schumacher: On the first weekend of the new DTM season, all seven Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers will compete with #keepfightingmichael stickers emblazoned on their DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés. The Formula 1 record-breaking champion has been in a coma since his serious skiing accident late last year.

VIPs at Mercedes-Benz: Formula 1 driver Nico Hülkenberg attended Saturday’s DTM qualifying session in Hockenheim. The Sahara Force India-Mercedes driver had a number of tasks to undertake, including taking part in an autograph session together with all the Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers. On Sunday, it will be the turn of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver Nico Rosberg, who currently leads the Formula 1 world championship, plus football legend Franz Beckenbauer to guest in Hockenheim.

Looking ahead to the race: The first DTM race of 2014 starts on Sunday at 1:30 pm (live on ARD TV from 1:15 pm onwards). Adrien Tambay (Audi / 1:32.272 minutes) takes pole position. The race is held over 42 laps, covering a total distance of 192.108 km.

Comments after Qualifying
Gary Paffett (33, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
15th, (1:32.834 minutes)
„Unfortunately, the first qualifying of the season turned out to be a disappointment for me. We haven’t found the perfect balance for the car yet and the setup still offers plenty of scope for cutting down on our lap times. After the winter tests, it was impossible to know, where we stood in relation to our opponents. Well, today we’ve seen where we are, so now we have to work hard on raising our game as fast as possible. I got as much out of the car as I could, but the DTM is such an evenly matched series that a deficit of just half a second in Q2 puts you back in P15. It shows what a high-powered series the DTM is. If we can just find a few tenths, we’ll be a lot further forward. So although qualifying was disappointing, I’m still optimistic about the race itself – points are a distinct possibility.“

Pascal Wehrlein (19, Germany, gooix Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
16th, (1:32.840 minutes)
„I tried to get the maximum out of the package. To be honest, I felt a lot happier in free practice. Now we have to analyse what went wrong in qualifying. I’m hoping that we can pull out a better performance overall in tomorrow’s race.“

Paul Di Resta (28, Scotland, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
19th, (1:33.639 minutes)
„It was a tough qualifying. I had some traffic on my second set of tyres but was quite pleased with my first set and the changes we made during the interval after practice. We might have gone through into the Top 10 but didn’t quite manage it in the next segment. It happens sometimes, and then you must simply roll up your sleeves and give it everything. We realise that we have to improve and get the car running better in order to be competitive. We’ll try now to find the right strategy for tomorrow.”

Daniel Juncadella (22, Spain, Petronas Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
20th, (1: 33.746 minutes)
„It was a tough qualifying session for me. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on the final sector going into the Motodrom, which lost me a few tenths. But even without this error, it was plain to see that we were way behind the competition. My biggest concern is that the car feels good, but the times are simply not there. However, the race itself takes place tomorrow and anything can happen. I’m still confident about the weekend and the season. We just have to keep pushing.“

Robert Wickens (25, Canada, FREE MAN’S WORLD Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
21st, (1:33.875 minutes)
„I want to thank the team for working so hard to get the car ready for qualifying. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a single clear lap, so that was that. We must do everything we can tomorrow to move up the field by as many places as possible.“

Christian Vietoris (25, Germany, Original-Teile Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
22nd, (1:34.242 minutes)
„That was a difficult session from my perspective. This first trial of strength has shown that we are currently lagging behind the competition. I tried my best to extract everything possible from the car, and on my final lap, that proved to be rather too much when I skidded off track. We now have to work very hard to close the gap.“

Vitaly Petrov (29, Russia, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
23rd, (1:34.367 minutes)
„We’ve made some progress compared with free practice. The car is handling better, and I’ve felt a lot more comfortable with it. On my flying lap, a car ahead of me spun off track which affected my braking. Consequently, I’m not satisfied with my qualifying result. But apart from that, we have certainly taken a step in the right direction.“

Wolfgang Schattling, Head of DTM Management:
„Our congratulations to Audi and Adrien Tambay on securing their first pole position of the season – an impressive feat. Qualifying was disappointing for us, unfortunately, and there’s nothing good to say about it. We need to greatly improve our car and our performance. Gary and Pascal achieved the maximum today. Now we must analyse qualifying to find out why we lost time, especially in the third sector where there are lots of turns. It’s difficult to judge what will be possible for us in the race, but this much is certain: we will not throw in the towel. We are all fighters and will mount an all-out attack tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but we will not give up.“

Source: Mercedes-Benz Motorsport