DTM 2017: Lausitzring – Analysis
Race 1: One-two win for Pink Panthers and victory for VfB Stuttgart
The Lausitzring and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport have a very special relationship. The team headed to the circuit with plenty of happy memories, as no other manufacturer in the history of the DTM has won at this track as often as the brand with the three-pointed star. And the current crop of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers have been more successful here than at any other circuit. 'Maybe bumpy tracks just suit me,' said Robert Wickens jokingly. The Canadian finished twice on the podium here in 2016. Gary Paffett holds the record at the Lausitzring with three wins, and Lucas Auer won his first DTM race here last year.
That seemed to be a good omen, because the young Austrian proved unstoppable on Saturday. He took pole position from team-mate, Robert, and then drove to his second win of the season. 'That was a super race - absolutely amazing,' said Lucas. 'Balance was terrific today, and our tyres were extremely consistent. My driving style and a brilliant car combined to give us victory today'
The next Lausitzring specialist, Robert Wickens, crossed the finish line in second place, coming home behind the 'Pink Panther' to achieve the team's first one-two victory this year. 'P2 is fantastic, but it wasn't an easy race', said Robert. 'I lost second place on the grid right at the start when Martin overtook me using DRS. However, I was confident that I would be able to retake the position provided we didn't pit on the same lap. I did it and then went off in pursuit of Luggi, but he was too far away.'
For three-time Lausitzring winner Gary Paffett, Saturday's race was his 150th in the DTM, which is an amazing total, but, when all said and done, Gary has contested three quarters of all races in the 'new DTM' since the year 2000. Only nine drivers in the history of the race series have contested more races than 2005 champion Gary Paffett. Having started ninth on the grid, Gary put in an early pit stop and gained a couple of positions. Paffett: 'I did quite well after that and ended up in a fight with Rocky, Ekström and Green. I managed to beat two of them and finish in P6, which was good. We got some decent points today.' Edoardo Mortara (7th place) and Maro Engel (9th place) also finished in the points. Five of the six Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers placed in the Top Ten in the first race.
Race 2: Fourth podium in a row and Bundesliga promotion
Sunday was then to be Robert Wickens' day. The Canadian showed that he was on stunning form in qualifying. Robert secured the team's third pole in only the fourth qualifying of the year. 'Rob's lap was absolutely amazing.' Just incredible, actually,' said Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Ulrich Fritz.
In the race, it looked initially as if Robert was going to improve his second place from the previous day by one position. 'The first stint was fantastic, and I thought that I had the race under control, but Audi were really fast during the second stint,' he said. However, his rivals, Jamie Green and Mattias Ekström, counter-attacked with early stops and a strong pace. 'I was unable to find a reply,' said Robert with honesty. 'It wasn't possible for us to pit on the first lap. Our tyres would not have held up long enough.'
Due to Ekström's good pace in the opening stages of the race, the team opted for an early stop. 'That's how I knew it would be close. I've never driven 30 laps before in one stint on the same tyres.' That was exactly what he had to do in the second race and although he could not keep Green and Ekström behind him, he was quite satisfied after the race. 'I'd obviously hoped for more after taking pole, but I still finished on the podium, so it's difficult to be too disappointed,' he said with mixed emotions. 'Still, two podiums in one weekend are a great result.'
After a tough season opener at Hockenheim, the fight for the championship really only got under way at the Lausitzring for Robert - and how! He achieved his 13th podium overall in the DTM and also his fourth podium in a row at the Lausitzring. And then there was another reason to be happy. Almost at the same time as the DTM race was happening, VfB Stuttgart secured a 4:1 win against Würzburg to go top of the division and gain promotion to the top flight of the Bundesliga. 'Congratulations to VfB Stuttgart on their promotion,' said Robert, whose Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM was liveried in VfB's colours for the first two race-weekends. 'I hope I did their colours proud.'
Gary came home behind Robert, finishing the race in fourth place - in the exact same position, in which he had lined up on the grid. 'I'm satisfied, but not ecstatic about it,' said Gary. 'I would have liked to have finished on the podium.' For most of the race, it looked as if he would succeed. 'Ekström, who had stopped very early and whose tyres were up to temperature, managed to get past after the pit stop. Although I think I was maybe a bit faster than Eki, I couldn't find a way past him. We just weren't quite fast enough on the straights.'
Conclusion: Successful weekend at the Lausitzring
The fourth race of the season marked the 200th race in the 'new DTM' since the year 2000. When we include Lucas' success on Saturday, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport have secured 13 wins at the Lausitzring during this time, making the brand with the three-pointed star the most successful at the Lausitzring. 'That was another strong showing for us again this weekend with a win and a P2 yesterday, plus another podium today and P4 for Gary, so we can be satisfied,' concluded Ulrich Fritz.
In the overall standings, the team's good results this weekend mean that Mercedes-AMG Motorsport lead all three rankings after the second weekend of the season. In the first four races of the season, Mercedes-AMG have secured the most points of all three manufacturers (187), taking the lead in the manufacturer's standings. Mercedes-AMG Motorsport BWT on 88 points head the team rankings. Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Mercedes me are four points behind in third place.
In the drivers' standings, Lucas has a 16-point lead on Jamie Green in second place. These two are also the only ones to have won a race this season. They have both stood twice on the top rung of the podium. 'That was a great weekend for us overall,' said Lucas on Sunday evening. So far this season, the Austrian has proved to be a real 'work horse', busily racking up points in all of the season's four races. 'Thanks to all the guys in my team for their hard work. My speed today was perhaps not outstanding, but I still picked up a point for P10. Now we're off to the next race weekend.'