Fitness Camp at La Manga
Hard work was top of the agenda before the new season gets under way. From the 4th to the 8th of February, the Mercedes-AMG DTM drivers laid the basic foundations for the upcoming DTM year at their traditional fitness camp in La Manga, Spain. Fitness training was, however, only part of the programme for the six drivers Lucas Auer, Paul Di Resta, Maro Engel, Edoardo Mortara, Gary Paffett and Robert Wickens plus test and reserve driver Maximilian Günther.
'It was, of course, about training, but also to a large extent about growing together as a team and setting goals for the season,' said team captain Gary Paffett. 'In that respect, we've developed our understanding quite well and know what we want to achieve.' This is all the more important as there were three new faces at this year's fitness camp with Maro Engel, who is returning to the DTM, and the two newcomers, Edoardo Mortara and Maximilian Günther.
'It was a super training week, even if it was cut short for me,' said Maro, who joined the team late after taking part in the 12-hour race in Bathurst last weekend. 'It's been great fun, working out with the guys. Our team spirit was already really good, but I feel we've been able to come together more as a team here.'
For Edoardo, the fitness camp at La Manga was his first opportunity to meet all his new team-mates in person. 'I had a lot of fun,' he said. 'We did a lot of training together, and the fitness week was just great with plenty of good opportunities for team building, enabling me to get to know my colleagues and bosses better.' The current DTM championship runner-up now feels more and more part of the Mercedes family after his days in La Manga. 'Of course, it takes some time, but events like this fitness week are very helpful in integrating into the group. This week was the perfect start to the year.'
Despite having to train hard, you could see that Maximilian Günther was also enjoying himself in the group. 'Team work and team building were the main elements,' he said. 'It was really great. Sure, most of the drivers have known each other for a long time, but there are also new members in the team like Edo and me. It's nice to be able to really get to know one another.'
Apart from fitness training and team sports such as football, karting, mountain biking, tennis and kayaking were also on the programme for the test week. There was a little bit of everything,' said Maximilian. 'It was very exhausting on the one hand, but there were also lots of meetings and little get-togethers, from which I learned a great deal.'
While this was Maximilian's first fitness week, Paul Di Resta is by now a veteran. The Scot will be starting his eighth DTM season in 2017. 'We've been coming to La Manga for a fair years now,' he said. 'It's a great place for such an event. There was just a small group of us, and team building went really well, which is important for success on the track.'
A bit of rivalry developed between them during the week, as is often the case when determined racing drivers get together. 'We pushed each other quite a lot, often at the end of the special workouts,' said Robert. 'We drove each other on. We then got the idea of having a competition. When we saw what the other can do, we all thought, I can do that better,' added Robert with a chuckle. A bit of healthy ambition and competition can only do the team spirit good. 'It was great fun, and every time we do a fitness camp, we become better friends and better team mates.'
Lucas Auer also knows that well from previous years. 'We've had an amazing fitness week,' said the Austrian. 'We've gained in strength as a team and trained a lot. It was hard work in every respect, not only physically, but also in other areas. I think that we're now well placed for the tasks to come.' While there are still a number of weeks in hand before the season opens at Hockenheim (5th - 7th May), the first test drives of the year will take place in two weeks' time from the 20th to the 23rd of February in Portimão.
Hard training, team spirit greatly improved - that's also how last week can be summed up from the point of view of Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM Ulrich Fritz: 'We had three new members in the team with Edo, Maro and Max. The newcomers were able to fit into our team really well at La Manga. The drivers have grown together as a group and have assimilated that special team spirit which has been so much a feature of our team in recent years. Along with good performance on the track, that's another vital component for a successful season.'