DTM 2018: Lausitzring – Analysis
With two wins from two races, the Lausitzring remains a track where the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team generally does well. Edoardo Mortara and Gary Paffett brought the brand with the three-pointed star victories number 14 and 15 this last race weekend, so Mercedes-AMG Motorsport have now taken more wins at the Lausitzring than any other manufacturer despite the introduction of the longer track configuration used for the first time this year. Over the course of the weekend, there was a debut victory, a record-breaking win and a return to the podium to celebrate, but let's take one thing at a time...
Edoardo's first win with Mercedes
The first race of the weekend started with two heart-in-the-mouth moments. First, a crash between Jamie Green and Nico Müller (both Audi) at the start, and then Audi driver René Rast rolled his car. 'First and foremost, what really matters today is that René is OK,' said Ulrich Fritz, putting his finger on what's important after this tempestuous race.
But there was one driver, who did not allow this crazy race that included a crash, two safety car periods and a race stoppage to faze him: Edoardo Mortara. This was his ninth victory in the DTM and first at the Lausitzring but more importantly, his very first win in a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. 'Congratulations to Edo on his first victory with Mercedes. He has worked hard for this and fully deserves it,' said Fritz.
Five of the six Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers, Edoardo, Gary Paffett, Paul Di Resta, Pascal Wehrlein and Lucas Auer, have won at least one race at the Lausitzring and three of them - Paul, Pascal and Lucas - have taken their maiden wins in the DTM at this track.
'This is a very special victory for me - my first with Mercedes,' said Edoardo with obvious delight. We struggled a lot last year, but this season, things are going a lot better for me, and I've at last been able to secure this victory. It's incredible. I am well satisfied and absolutely delighted.' Strategy, pit stop and car were terrific and helped him translate his fine performance into his first win for the team. 'I'm really ecstatic after this victory. My start was not perfect and the first laps were a bit difficult but everything went really well.'
Mr Lausitzring strikes again for a fourth time
Sunday turned into a day of triumph for another Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM driver. While Edoardo had to relinquish his position on the instructions of the Race Director after making two overtaking manoeuvres and lost his chances of a better place as a result, Gary Paffett left no doubt about who was the pace-setter in this fourth race of the season.
Gary qualified third on the grid and shortly after the start, overtook first team-mate Pascal Wehrlein and then pole-sitter, Philipp Eng (BMW). He subsequently pulled out a lead of over two seconds on nearest rivals Pascal and Marco Wittmann (BMW) before heading into the pits on Lap 12. Gary: 'After the pit stop, I was happy with the gap I'd pulled out on the pursuing group, but on the last 15 laps, I had to push hard again to stay ahead of Marco (Wittmann). It was a tough race and very hot out there, plus the cars were sliding about quite a lot, which made it a far from easy race.'
However, that did not stop him from achieving his 22nd DTM victory, his second of the season, and so, Gary has reduced the gap in the drivers' standings on championship leader Timo Glock (BMW) to just one point. 'After two race weekends, I now have two wins under my belt - that's an incredible start to the season,' said Gary. Team Principal Ulrich Fritz also congratulated him: 'What a fantastic race by Gary! He took the win in a very controlled fashion.'
With his fourth victory at the Lausitzring after 2005, 2009 and 2013, Gary is now the man with the most wins at the track. Up until today, he had shared that accolade with DTM record-breaking champion Bernd Schneider and Jamie Green.
Podium comeback following return
Pascal Wehrlein (Mercedes-AMG Motorsport PETRONAS) finished third and joined team-mate Gary on the podium. For the 2015 DTM champion, this was his seventh podium finish in his DTM career and first since returning to the series this year. Pascal was last on the DTM podium at the Nürburgring in 2015 but has some fond memories of the Lausitzring, as he took his maiden win in the DTM there in 2014.
'It's working out better and better for me, and I'm really happy today, although I lost out a bit in the race', said Pascal. 'Gary and Marco (Wittmann) were more consistent and managed the tyres better. It is always the case that I am never satisfied if I don't win. But all that really matters for me is that things are getting better and I'm heading in the right direction.'
Best charge up the field
Paul Di Resta was not exactly well placed after qualifying for the second race. He had obviously reckoned on doing better than P15 on the grid, but a fellow competitor put paid to his chances. 'I should have been P5 on the grid,' he said after his terrific charge up the field. 'In light of that, fourth place after starting from P15 is pretty good.'
Paul gained eleven positions in the course of the 34 race laps, moving up from 15th on the grid to P4. He ultimately finished just under ten seconds down on Pascal Wehrlein in third place.
'It's been a good day in the end, but way more difficult than it needed to be,' said Paul after the race. 'The team did a nice job with strategy, and we had a longer stint than we thought we could achieve.' However, he's hoping to be a bit luckier in the next race and to finally be in a position to attack from the front.
Strong team performance at Lausitzring
All in all, the team can hardly have wished for a better start to the season. After two race weekends and four races, the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team have racked up three wins, two pole positions, three fastest race laps and six podium finishes.
The squad's performance was excellent again in the two races at the Lausitzring. Five of the six drivers finished in the Top Ten in the first race while in Race 2, three drivers came home in the Top Four. 'This has been a great weekend for the entire team. Top job, guys!' said Ulrich Fritz.
A quick look at the overall standings also confirms the strong performance by the team. After the first four races of the season, five of their drivers are in the Top Six in the drivers' standings. Gary is on 71 points, just one point behind championship leader Timo Glock (BMW). In the team competition, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport PETRONAS are in first place with 110 points while Mercedes-AMG lead the constructors' classification with 212 points from BMW on 164 and Audi 52.
The DTM will be back racing in two weeks' time (1st - 3rd June) at the Hungaroring near Budapest. We're on our way!