DTM 2018: Norisring – Analysis
Mega-enthusiastic fans, a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of spectacular racing, the Norisring race weekend is one of the absolute highlights of the season every year, and that's how it was to be once again in 2018. The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team have been waiting for a win at the Dutzendteich since 2015, but their long wait finally came to an end this weekend and was well worth waiting for, coming in twos...
Race 1: Double win for Germany
The Best Never Rest is the slogan for the Mercedes-Benz World Cup campaign, and two wins were to come their way on Saturday - the first one in the DTM race at the Norisring, the other in the national side's second group match against Sweden. And amazing coincidences sometimes happen in sport, because who was the one best suited to pulling off a win in the races? Why, none other than Edoardo Mortara, because his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM is liveried in DFB's colours this season.
However, on the way to taking his second win this season and second success in Bavaria's answer to Monaco, Edoardo had to beat off competition from team-mate Gary Paffett and local favourite Marco Wittmann in the BMW. Just 1.2 seconds covered the Top Three at the end of the race. 'That was a perfect day for me and for the team,' said a delighted Edoardo. I've already had one race win - that was at the Lausitzring - and have been a bit unlucky in a couple of others, for example, in the second race at Hockenheim and in the other race at the Lausitzring. But things are going really well for me at the moment, and I'm obviously hoping for more wins to come.'
Gary's second place brought the team both their third one-two win of the year and the 107th in the brand's 30 years of contesting the DTM. The British driver also took the lead in the drivers' championship with this result. 'Amazing! That was a mega race, and my car was very fast,' said the 2005 champion.' It was important that I stayed out ahead of Philipp Eng after the stop. I just had to wait for the right moment to get past Marco Wittmann.'
He had an exciting scrap with his team-mate in the closing moments of the race. 'It was great fun in the final stages. It was a super battle with Edo, and I never gave up,' said Gary. 'It may have raised pulse rates among the team, but it was a really good race. P2 and taking over at the top of the championship are fantastic for me.'
Team Principal Ulrich Fritz had nothing but praise for his performance: 'We've seen a very strong team showing today,' he said after five of his protégés had finished in the Top Eight. 'The drivers and the pit crew too did just great, performed well and did not put a foot wrong.' And then there was a possible second victory for DFB to consider later that same day: 'With Germany playing in the World Cup this evening, it's hopefully a good omen that Edo has won in a car sporting the national team's colours.'
The Team Principal's words were to prove correct. Germany won 2-1 with a last-minute goal in injury time. The second German victory of the day also provided the model for Sunday's race at the Dutzendteich, which was to remain exciting to the very end...
Race 2: Two podiums & two firsts
The second race at the Norisring could not have been more exciting. There were countless changes of position throughout the field during the 68-lap race - including up front as drivers fought for the lead. Saturday's winner Edoardo Mortara and Daniel Juncadella were both in contention to take the win until the last corner, but BMW driver Marco Wittmann was able to cling on to his small lead at the finish line and celebrate victory on home turf. Edoardo in second place took his second podium of the weekend, and Dani secured his maiden podium in the DTM!
'Incredible! First the victory yesterday and now P2 today. It's brilliant,' said Edoardo. 'Especially after such an extremely thrilling race.' Edoardo started out from P5 on the grid behind four of his team-mates who had dominated qualifying on Sunday morning, including Dani, who secured his maiden pole position in the DTM. Edoardo came in for an early pit stop after just one lap, so his tyres then had to hold up for almost the entire race distance, but he did just brilliantly.
'The car was much better today and everything went well,' he said. He is now in second place in the championship classification: 'But it is still too early to think about the championship. There are still a lot of race weekends to go. This weekend has been great, and I hope that I will experience many more such days this season.'
Dani, who celebrated a double first at the Norisring, had set himself the same goal - his maiden DTM pole and his first champagne shower at a DTM award ceremony. 'I'm definitely satisfied with the way today went, but next time, I will hopefully be right at the front,' he told us. 'I finally got my first pole position, and of all weekends, it was at the Norisring, one of the highlights of the year. After so many years, it was a great feeling. My car was incredibly strong today, so I have to thank my entire team.'
Classifications overall: Lead in all three categories
Eight races so far this season and five wins. The team have won at least one race at each of the four race weekends - at Hockenheim, at the Lausitzring, in Budapest and at the Norisring. Just how good the team representing the brand with the three-pointed star are as regards to performance can be seen from the fact that five of the six drivers finished in the Top Ten in both races at Nuremberg. 'All in all, it's been a very successful weekend for us. Congratulations to the whole team,' said Ulrich Fritz.
The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team now lead all three championships as they head to the North Sea for the next race weekend. After the eight races held so far this season, Gary on 99 points leads the drivers' standings from team-mate Edoardo Mortara (93 points). Two other team members, Paul Di Resta (87 points) and Lucas Auer (72 points), are in the Top Six in the drivers' standings.
All three teams are in the Top Four in the team competition. Team SILBERPFEIL Energy Mercedes-AMG Motorsport on 165 points lead the team championship. Mercedes-AMG (412 points) have a lead of 108 points on BMW (313 points) in the constructors' championship.
DTM racing will continue at Zandvoort's circuit in the dunes, 13th - 15th July. This fifth race weekend of the year with Races 9 and 10 will mark the half-way stage for this DTM season. By the way, the World Cup finals in Russia will also be taking place on Sunday, the same day as the second DTM race at Zandvoort. Perhaps Germany can celebrate another double victory???