Testing at Hockenheim
Mercedes-AMG Motorsport are about to write the final chapter in their 30-year DTM history. Shortly before the start of their anniversary season, the team were at Hockenheim, attending a dress rehearsal for the season opener which will be hosted by the same venue. Over the course of the four days of testing, the six Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM drivers completed 1,606 laps – equivalent to a distance of 7,346 kilometres on the 4.574 km Hockenheimring – more than either of the other two manufacturers.
“I’m pretty happy after my two days of testing,” said team captain Gary Paffett, who set the fastest time on the second day. “The weather has been good and we had lots of dry running. The cars run very well; we have done lots of testing and lots of mileage. I’m really pleased with that. As for the pace, it’s impossible to say really. I think it means nothing at all so far, but it’s always nice to see your name at the top of the time sheets. That was good, but it means very little at the moment. What is important is that we are working through the changes to the car and we are finding a better balance and making some good progress on short runs and long runs. I think we have a really good understanding of the car now, and we are well prepared for the first race in Hockenheim.”
The test days were particularly important for Daniel Juncadella. The Spaniard had injured his collarbone just over a week before in a cycling accident, but he was determined to return to the cockpit at Hockenheim. “It was great to be back in the car this week,” said Daniel Juncadella after immediately putting in 121 laps. “All in all, it was very positive. I completed my programme and did plenty of laps without experiencing pain. It’s great to feel so fit again just ten days after my injury. This is the most important thing for me to take away from the tests. Now I just can’t wait for the opening race weekend.”
The same goes for the 2015 DTM champion, whose turn it was to drive on Day 1 - the first time he had got behind the wheel of a DTM car since his championship-winning season. “I was delighted to be back in the car again,” said Pascal Wehrlein. “It was high time after the long winter break. The process of adapting from Formula 1 to the DTM went quite fast. Lap times in the winter tests are always hard to judge, but I definitely got a positive feeling. We learned a lot, and it’s been a good two and a half days for me. Hockenheim cannot come too soon.”
After the long winter break, Edoardo Mortara was also delighted to be back on track in his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. “I covered a lot of kilometres and managed to do plenty of testing,” he said. “I had my turn at the beginning of the week, so we were doing a lot of work on the setup of the car. After that, we also tested with qualifying and actual race situations in mind. I’m now hoping that we will be competitive at the start of the season.”
Paul Di Resta obviously enjoyed his first laps of the new year: “I got a feeling of how the new car works. As a team, we got through most of our priorities, and the majority of our test programme is ultimately all about putting the time until the first race to a good use. Credit to the team – it’s been a long four days for them. I’m looking forward to getting back into action, turning on the power, getting aggressive and going out and racing these cars.“
This is precisely what racing drivers such as Paul and Lucas Auer love about their job. “The two days of testing were very productive,” added Lucas. “We tested a lot of components, and I really got back into my rhythm. After the test drives, we know the direction we need to go in. I’m now curious to see who has the upper hand in the first race at Hockenheim.”
Of course, the winter test drives do not conclusively answer the big question of how the teams measure up to each other. “We have an exhausting but successful final week of testing behind us in the run‑up to the season opener at the same venue here in Hockenheim,” said Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Ulrich Fritz. “We put in 1,606 laps and covered 7,346 kilometres on the four test days this week, which was very important, as every kilometre is enormously valuable for us because of the small number of test days this year. The whole team were highly dedicated and did a good job. Also, it was nice to see all our drivers in action again after the long winter break. We’ll find out just how well we’ve done our homework when the season begins in early May.”
The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team now returns to the factory in Affalterbach, where the engineers will continue with final preparations for the season opener on the weekend of 4th - 6th May at Hockenheimring. They will be evaluating the data from the winter test drives and applying the final touches to the cars for the upcoming campaign. The drivers and crew will be working through the last part of their physical fitness programme over the coming weeks. This will include sessions in the gym and pit stop practice. The results of the tough pre-season will become apparent on 5th May when Mercedes-AMG Motorsport embarks on its anniversary season at Hockenheim.