DTM 2018: Misano – Analysis
An unknown racetrack, the first two night races in DTM history and then rain - the team's first visit to Misano in Italy posed plenty of challenges. While not everything may have gone perfectly, the team still headed home from the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli with three podiums. But let's take one thing at a time...
Premiere: Di Resta wins under floodlight
Paul Di Resta was the man to beat at the DTM premiere under floodlight. The Scot secured the first pole position at Misano with a lead of almost half-a-second on team-mate Edoardo Mortara, giving him the best position on the grid for the night race which got underway in wet track conditions.
'Today, it was important for me to qualify on pole,' said Paul, who was able to reduce his deficit on Gary in the championship thanks to his win. 'This has been a perfect day for me. Obviously, I'm extremely happy about it. You really can't ask for more. The championship is wide open, and ultimately it will be consistency that decides.'
The team set a new record early on in qualifying by putting a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM in pole position in this 13th race of the season for the eleventh time this year. No other brand has ever taken more poles in a single DTM season than Mercedes-AMG. Until now, the record, set in the 1994 season, stood at ten poles (also achieved by the brand with the three-pointed star). In addition, for the ninth time in a row, a Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM driver, Paul Di Resta, started the race from pole, which is also a new record.
Home race: Two trophies for Mortara
Edoardo Mortara competed with the DTM for the first time at Misano in his Italian homeland. While Edo had, of course, intended to reward his fans with good results for coming to watch, he was made to work hard for it.
He struggled with his car in Race 1 on Saturday and was still not sure at the start whether he would even be able to make it to the finish line. 'That was a tough race for me,' said Edo, who started out from second on the grid, a position that he maintained until shortly before the end when Audi driver Robin Frijns went past him. Edo took third place which was a decent result in view of his technical issues.
Conditions for Sunday's second race were even worse. Edo was in the lead for a long time and looked like the favourite to take the win, as the rain began to come down again. But then a safety car period at the wrong time just before his mandatory stop ate into his lead. 'Unfortunately, I was out of luck with the safety car today, but that's all part of racing. Things like that can happen,' he told us.
Nevertheless, he is satisfied with his haul of points: 'At the end of the day, though, I've taken two podiums in my home fixture at Misano,' said Edo. 'I really wanted to win in Italy, of course, but regrettably that wasn't to be. Anyway, I'm still satisfied with the race weekend. My car was superbly competitive in the race, and that fills me with confidence for the rest of the season.'
Jinxed: Paffett finishes out of the points
Until Misano, Gary and Paul were the only two drivers in the field who had finished in the points every time with the exception of one race. While Paul was able to continue his series of successes with a win and sixth place, Gary suffered a major setback in his championship fight with two finishes out of the points.
That was really tough on him in Race 1, during which he and Edo had battled in the group of front-runners. 'Conditions out there were tough today, and I ran wide briefly. I tried to get back on track as quickly as possible and then had a contact with Edo,' said Gary, describing the event that led to his retirement. 'Unfortunately, my steering got broken in the incident.'
That contact with his team-mate and Gary's subsequent retirement also put a dampener on Edo's delight with his P3: 'I was caught in the middle, and there was no way I could prevent it. It was by no means ideal,' he said. 'That's why I'm not completely satisfied with how today turned out, although a podium finish is a good result for me in my home race.'
Gary, who had led the championship overall before Misano, was all the more determined to do better in Sunday's second race. P8 on the grid was not ideal, but in a chaotic rain-affected race, anything can happen, as we are all too aware - and that was exactly how it went, but not to his advantage, unfortunately.
'That was such a disappointing race,' said Gary, summing up. 'I had actually been intending to score a lot of points today. The conditions were difficult, but as a team, we made too many wrong decisions, which has cost us dearly. We need to learn lessons from this and make sure we do better in the next few races.'
There was also a contact with a team-mate. 'It was clearly my fault,' said Daniel Juncadella. 'I feel very sorry for the team, because we deserved a much better result today.' It also gave Team Principal Ulrich Fritz some cause for concern: 'Starting with the problems surrounding Gary's pit stop, and then the driving errors and crash by one of our drivers, these are all things that should not happen.'
Change of lead: Di Resta takes over from Paffett
Things happen quickly in the DTM. Gary had been 29 points up on Paul before the Misano race weekend but is now nine points behind his team-mate in the run-up to the third-last race weekend of the season at the Nürburgring.
'Today wasn't the easiest of days, but all that ultimately counts is the fact that I've taken the lead in the championship with six races to go to the end of the season,' said Paul, now on 186 points after continuing the run of points-scoring finishes that has enabled him to take over the lead in the championship from team-mates, Gary (177 points) and Edoardo (138 points). 'Many thanks to my team who prepared the car so brilliantly in such a short time. That's the way it's going to be from now on. Hopefully, things will work out just as well next time, because my car functioned superbly in all conditions.'
The team leave Misano with mixed feelings. 'All things considered, we can definitely be satisfied with the Misano race weekend. We took P1 and P3 yesterday and second place today, achieving each of those successes under extremely difficult conditions. We can build on that,' said Team Principal Ulrich Fritz after the second round. 'But we made too many mistakes today that stopped the team as a whole turning in a better performance. We will, though, have to analyse exactly how the various incidents came about, and it's important that we do that.'
Apart from leading the drivers' classification, the brand with the three-pointed star also head the team and manufacturers' rankings. In the team competition, Team Mercedes-AMG Motorsport PETRONAS (269 points) are at the top of the table with 21 points ahead of Team SILBERPFEIL Energy Mercedes-AMG Motorsport (248 points). In the manufacturers' standings, Mercedes-AMG (761 points) are in first place with a lead of 319 points on BMW (442 points).
After three races in other European countries, the DTM returns to Germany on the weekend of 7th - 9th September. That's when the legendary Nürburgring will be hosting Rounds 15 and 16 of the 2018 championship.