2017 DTM Young Driver Test
Not long after the grand finale to the 2017 DTM season at Hockenheim, the engines roared back to life at the Lausitzring. In the context of the three-day Young Driver Test (24th - 26th October 2017), the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team gave the two junior drivers Maximilian Günther and Raffaele Marciello an opportunity to impress at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM.
During the course of the three test days (Tuesday to Thursday), four-time DTM race winner Lucas Auer also put in a few laps in the cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. The idea was that the Austrian’s lap times would serve as a reference for the two talented juniors. “Both of them did a good job,” said Lucas in praise of the duo. “They did not have it easy with the changeable conditions out there, but they performed well and put in some useful work. You know, it’s funny, I can still remember well when I got my first experience in such a test, and now I am the reference driver for the next generation...”
Return to the DTM cockpit for Raffaele Marciello
Raffaele Marciello was first in line on Tuesday. The Italian won the FIA Formula 3 European Championship powered by a Mercedes-AMG Formula 3 engine in the 2013 season and was subsequently rewarded with a DTM test. In 2015, Raffaele participated in a Young Driver Test for the brand with the three-pointed star, which that year was held in Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain. Since winning the Formula 3 title, Raffaele has competed in the GP2 Series, in FIA Formula 2 and in GT racing. He has also completed a Formula 1 test for Scuderia Ferrari and the Sauber F1 Team. With a third-place finish in the 24 Hours of Spa, he has already made his mark in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 as a member of the Mercedes Team Akka ASP this year.
“I am pretty satisfied with the test,” Raffaele said, after completing 61 laps on the first day of the test. When I was driving the DTM car, many emotions welled up in me. The car is really great. We did a lot of testing and everything went well. I am very happy to have had this opportunity to do a test drive in this car. It was a really nice feeling.”
First laps in the rain for Maximilian Günther
For Maximilian Günther, the DTM is anything but uncharted territory. During the past season, the 20-year-old has served in the capacity of official test and substitute driver for the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team. He made his DTM test debut in the 2016 Young Driver Test in Jerez de la Frontera. The invitation was by way of a reward for finishing as runner-up in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship of that year. This season, Maximilian has once again contested the Formula 3 Championship, ending up third in the general classification after five victories and 16 podium appearances.
“It has been really cool, this first day of testing,” said Maximilian after completing a mammoth programme of 136 laps on Wednesday. “I had a lot of fun. I got into a good rhythm and felt OK in the car. The wet conditions in the morning were a bit of a challenge, but the driving was most enjoyable.”
It was Maximilian’s first ever outing in a DTM car in the wet, but that didn’t seem to bother him. Instead, it offered him the opportunity to work on the setup and accumulate valuable experience. On Thursday, the third and last day of the test, he put in another 153 laps and finished his test week on a high: “I can sense that I’m getting more and more used to the car. My thanks go to the whole team for the support they have given me.”
The test week in figures
With a total of 350 laps between them, the two youngsters gained a lot of experience on the Lausitzring during the three-day test. “The two guys have been more than impressive,” said Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM Ulrich Fritz. “Both soon adapted to the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM and gave the engineers very good feedback. It is always a wonderful sight to behold whenever talented youngsters gain their first experience in a DTM racing car and visibly improve from test to test. Many thanks also to Lucas, who helped not only by setting reference times, but also with the advice and support he gave. The Young Driver Test was a nice way to round off the season before we embark on the winter break and begin our preparations for the next one.”