DTM 2017: Hockenheim I – Preview

A new era will begin for the DTM at Hockenheim with the first race weekend of the 2017 season when the touring cars race for the first time, having undergone big changes as a result of the new regulations. More than 70 percent of the parts on the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM are new for 2017.

In testing at Hockenheim, the new generation of vehicles was immediately more than two seconds faster than their predecessors had been during the 2016 season finale at the same venue. Pole time for the first race in 2016 was 1:32.344 minutes, whereas the fastest lap posted by Paul Di Resta in the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM during the 2017 winter tests was 1:30.236 minutes.

With two race weekends each year, plus testing before the start of the season, drivers and engineers know the Hockenheimring inside out. Still, things are different this year, as all three manufacturers will be contesting the first two races with the brand-new generation of vehicles for 2017 this weekend, so there is still a great deal to learn about the new cars and the new Hankook tyres.

“Basically, as a team, we've come on in leaps and bounds as far as the simulations and preparation for a race weekend are concerned,“ said Race Engineer Dennis Nägele. “So I really think that there's much we can build on and continue to develop from previous years. But by that, I don't mean that we can take everything over from last year on a one-to-one basis and expect everything to work properly right away.” Teams will face a further challenge this season, adding to the excitement at race weekends.

The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team spent four days testing at the Hockenheimring in early April, one month before the start of the season. The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers posted 1,580 laps, equating to 7,227 km, which was by far and away the most kilometres of any of the three manufacturers.

The first two races with the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM are scheduled for this weekend. The second race on Sunday will be the 400th DTM/ITC race for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport since the factory joined the series in 1988. In the previous 398 races, the brand with the three-pointed star secured 175 wins (including 101 one-two wins), 122 pole positions, 520 podium places, 180 fastest race laps and 1,596 points.

Comments on the Hockenheim race weekend

Gary Paffett (36, England):

  • Car number: 2
  • Team: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Mercedes me
  • Car: Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM Mercedes me

“Finally, we're off to the season opener in Hockenheim. I feel well prepared and the last test showed that the pace is there. The team have done brilliantly well with the new car. Nevertheless, it will be very close, as our competitors have been working as hard as us. The weekend won't be straightforward, but I've got a feeling that our car will be good if we can set it up right and not make any mistakes. There are some big innovations and some more minor ones this season in the DTM. The new tyres especially will be a huge change for us. Driving back out on cold tyres after a pit stop will be quite new to us. We've practised a lot during the winter and have gone through plenty of simulations, but it's something very different when you have to do it for the first time at a race weekend. And so, we have every reason to look forward to an exciting weekend.”

Paul Di Resta (31, Scotland):

  • Car number: 3
  • Team: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport SILBERPFEIL Energy
  • Car: Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM

“It's show time! The team have a lot of hard work behind them, and we're really looking forward to finally experiencing the new car in action. I feel very positive after the successful tests in Hockenheim. I can now hardly wait to race again. Hopefully, all the hard work from the long winter break will pay off, and we can have just as successful a start to the season as last year.”

Robert Wickens (28, Canada):

  • Car number: 6
  • Team: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Mercedes me
  • Car: Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM Mercedes me

“We drivers have waited a very long time for this moment. The winter break seems to go on forever, but we're here now, fortunately. I'm really excited about the first weekend in Hockenheim. The tests went well for me. An important factor will be whether I can be as strong in qualifying as last year. If we can manage that, then we can benefit under the new regulations, all being well.”

Lucas Auer (22, Austria):

  • Car number: 22
  • Team: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport BWT
  • Car: Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM BWT

“The season opener in Hockenheim is always something special. This weekend is bound to be really interesting thanks to the new regulations and the new tyres in particular. That will be the case especially where the races are concerned and the matter of who will choose which strategy. So, I'm really looking forward to finally getting in the car. The Hockenheimring is always a lot of fun and affords plenty of excellent overtaking possibilities, which is why I think it's going to be incredibly exciting.”

Edoardo Mortara (30, Italy):

  • Car number: 48
  • Team: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport BWT
  • Car: Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM BWT

“I'm looking forward to my first weekend with the team after winter testing. We've worked hard all winter to face the fresh challenges posed by the new cars and new tyres. We've definitely got an exciting season ahead of us. We found some good solutions for setup at the final week of testing in Hockenheim. Of course, we've still got to continue to improve a bit, but I feel optimistic about our ability to be competitive. I'm now looking forward to the first two races in my new car.”

Maro Engel (31, Germany):

  • Car number: 63
  • Team: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport SILBERPFEIL Energy
  • Car: Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM SILBERPFEIL Energy

“We can't wait to find out where we stand compared to the competition. My DTM comeback after five years is obviously something special for me personally. Hockenheim is always a highlight with a great, amazing crowd, so I'm really looking forward to the race weekend. Many innovations have been introduced for this season, so things will certainly get very lively, and we'll see some really cracking racing. My goal is to finish in the points in both races, and after that, we'll just have to see what else is possible.”

Ulrich Fritz, Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM:

“The whole team are delighted that the long break without any DTM racing is finally coming to an end. Staff have worked hard these last few months, and everyone now wants to see the results of their work on the track. The special thing about the first race weekend at Hockenheim is that it shows where every manufacturer stands. The tests have not yet given us a clear picture, so there's a certain amount of tension in the run-up to the first races. I'm also looking forward to the new pit stops. The mechanics will have even more demands placed on them and carry an even greater responsibility for the progress of the races. I'm curious to see how the teams handle it and am counting down the hours until the traffic lights turn green again. We'll also be celebrating a very special anniversary on Sunday, marking the 400th time since 1988 that our team has competed in the DTM. We've achieved 175 victories so far. That's an outstanding performance and one that makes you proud to work for the brand with the three-pointed star.”

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