Hockenheim II: Analysis
How time flies! The DTM season in Hockenheim had hardly begun before the drivers and teams were back in the paddock at the Hockenheimring this weekend to tackle the ninth and final race weekend of the 2016 season. And what a season it's been! The final weekend and a home race for Mercedes-AMG were full of ups and downs for the brand with the star, just like the eight previous weekends had been from Hockenheim to Budapest. But one thing at a time...
Paul Di Resta: Tough scrap is ultimately rewarded
The Hockenheimring has always been good for the Mercedes-AMG DTM Team. Since 1988, the brand with the three-pointed star has secured 32 wins and 19 pole positions in their home race. 2010 DTM champion Paul Di Resta also made a fine contribution by taking his second win of the season at the Hockenheimring. He's already secured six podiums at this track.
However, Saturday was heavy going for the Scot and the entire team. Di Resta was only in tenth place after 27 laps. 'That was a hard-fought point,' said Di Resta. 'I had no choice but to use DRS relatively early in the race. Consequently, I was unable to use it later on for overtaking.' On the penultimate lap, he managed to overtake Augusto Farfus but had no chance against Jamie Green in the Audi, as he could still use DRS. Di Resta pinned his hopes on Sunday's race: 'I hope tomorrow will be better for us.'
He was to be proved right, but there was still plenty of work for him to do again this time to reach his goal of a podium finish. 'Qualifying was very tricky due to the traffic, but the team gave me a good car,' said Di Resta, who lined up in grid slot 18 for the race. The Scot moved up six positions on the very first lap. He was ninth after five laps and in the points. From there, he gradually progressed up into sixth place until his pit stop on Lap 14.
Di Resta finished third behind his Mercedes-AMG DTM team-mate Christian Vietoris after everyone had completed their mandatory pit stops. The strategy of an early pit stop worked out really well for Vietoris. 'For the moment, I'm looking forward to the celebrations tonight, but work for the new season starts tomorrow morning.'
Christian Vietoris ensures double podium
Christian Vietoris made it a double podium to mark the end of the season. He secured his second podium of the dying season in Hockenheim. 'Great race, great end to the year,' said Vietoris, summing things up after his win. 'It's nice to finish the year on a high after a tough season full of ups and downs.'
He was satisfied with his performance in his sixth DTM season despite dropping points at the Lausitzring, at the Norisring and in Zandvoort. 'Whilst you wouldn't think so from looking at the standings, this has been my best DTM season this year, so that gives us a solid foundation on which to fight for the title next year.'
While Vietoris was lucky in Hockenheim, Gary Paffett was caught out this time. The champion from 2005 fought for the lead for several laps after the start against BMW driver Antonio Felix da Costa. 'I was much quicker than him and tried to overtake, using DRS,' said Paffett. 'We were wheel-to-wheel when he turned in, forcing me to run wide. On the next lap in Turn 8, I made to pass on the inside, but he braked very early and turned in again. I made contact with the rear of his car and was given a drive-through penalty.' That cost Paffett the chance of his first win of the season.
Fully focused on the 2017 DTM season
'A double podium to round off the season - that's what we were hoping for,' said Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM Ulrich Fritz, summing up the last race of the year. 'A big thank-you to the whole team for their superb work over the last few months. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to secure us a title, but luck has rarely been on our side this year.'
Robert Wickens was a championship contender until Budapest but ultimately, had to be satisfied with fourth place overall in the driver's standings. 'That wasn't the end to the season that we deserved,' said Wickens. 'I'm happy that I came fourth in the championship in the end. This is a good performance, but we had enough speed today to have been competing for a podium.'
However, he achieved a points-scoring finish in P9 to close the season. 'It was never going to be any better than that today,' said Wickens. 'I'm now hoping that we'll come back stronger next year.' Ulrich Fritz has already told his team what to expect: 'Tomorrow is the first day of the new season. We'll be doing everything we can to come back stronger than ever in 2017.'