Victory to mark the start of the new DTM era as ‘Pink Panther’ Lucas Auer wins the first race with the new generation of DTM cars at Hockenheim on Saturday. This was the Austrian’s second win in the DTM after taking his maiden victory at the Lausitzring just over a year ago. Auer started Mercedes-AMG Motorsport’s 399th DTM/ITC race from pole position in his ‘Pink Panther’ and notched up the 176th victory for the brand with the three-pointed star.
The latest member to join the squad, Edoardo Mortara (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM BWT), finished his first race for the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team in fourth place and just missed the podium. Gary Paffett (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM Mercedes me) and Paul Di Resta (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM) placed seventh and eighth respectively. Four of the six Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers finished in the Top Eight.
Robert Wickens (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM) and Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM SILBERPFEIL Energy) finished out of the points in the season opener. The Canadian was handed a drive-through penalty following a contact with the BMW of Tom Blomqvist and came home in 15th place. Engel, though, was pushed by Jamie Green (Audi) and dropped way down the field. He finished the race in front of Green in P17. The race stewards gave the Audi driver a drive-through penalty following the incident.
Qualifying: The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team made an excellent start to the season in the first qualifying session. All six Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers qualified in the Top Ten. Austrian Lucas Auer (1:30.849 minutes) took the first pole position of the year from team-mates Gary Paffett (1:31.042 minutes) and Edoardo Mortara (1:31.120 minutes). Three Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTMs lined up in the top three places on the grid – and the brand with the three-pointed star secured the first points of the season, because as of this year, the top three cars in qualifying will score points towards the championship: 3 points for pole position, 2 for grid slot 2 and 1 for P3.
Comments after the race
Lucas Auer: “That was the most difficult race of my life. Later on, I had to nurse my tyres through to the end. I had to defend, but at the same time drive fast and avoid the slightest error. We had a strategy planned out, but because of the new rules, you’re all on your own out there without team radio. Nobody can tell you if you should be going easy on the tyres – you have to find that out for yourself. When Timo was getting closer on the last few laps, I knew that, if I could hold off his initial attacks, I would have a chance, because his tyres would then be equally degraded. It really was very hard work. But I’m mega happy with the way things turned out. A huge ‘thank you’ to my team. They worked 24/7 over the winter, and that’s now paid off.”
Edoardo Mortara: “It was a very difficult race. To be honest, I didn’t have the pace I had hoped for. We were struggling a bit with the car balance and experiencing more tyre degradation than we had expected. I was surprised that I caught up with Rocky towards the end because, for the whole race, I hadn’t believed that I could come back at him. I then realised that he had pitted very early. But when I was attacking him late on, he defended very well. It was important for me to score these points. Ultimately, it’s not a bad result. We just have to improve the car overnight and then, hopefully, we’ll have a better race tomorrow. Congratulations to Lucas on his first win of the season. It shows that our team has worked very well.”
Source: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport