Tales from the paddock – Lucas Auer: “Our pace is absolutely where it needs to be”
The 2018 DTM season reaches the halfway mark next weekend at Zandvoort. Lucas Auer looks back on the first half of the season and talks about the challenges posed by Circuit Zandvoort
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Lucas Auer
- Social media news: What’s new online?
Stat-Attack – Silverstone: Le Castellet, Spielberg and Silverstone – last weekend, the first triple-header in Formula 1 history came to an end. The team experienced a veritable rollercoaster of emotions. On Saturday, the home fans in the stands were ecstatic when local hero Lewis Hamilton secured his 76th Formula 1 pole. Lewis’s lap time was 44 thousandths faster than that set by Sebastian Vettel. For the fourth time this season and for the sixth time at Silverstone, he was starting the race from the front of the grid. He is now the sole record holder for most pole positions in the British Grand Prix, an honour which he previously shared with Jim Clark. It was also the 250th occasion on which a car powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine started from P1. On Sunday, Lewis then had to fight hard for his 124th podium finish with a furious pursuit from the rear of the field through to second at the chequered flag.
Zandvoort, here we come: Circuit Zandvoort has been hosting the DTM since the 2001 season. Since then, the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Team has claimed six wins against the backdrop of the dunes on the Dutch North Sea coast. Gary Paffett is the most successful of the current crop of DTM drivers at this particular venue, with a tally of three victories (2005, 2009, 2010). Uwe Alzen scored the first DTM victory for the brand with the three-pointed star at Zandvoort in a thrilling finish on the debut of the race there in 2001. Two years later, Christijan Albers contesting his home race claimed the first (and so far only) DTM victory for a Dutchman on this track. The team had its last victory in the Netherlands in 2016 when Robert Wickens won the Saturday race.
First IMSA win of the season for the Mercedes-AMG GT3: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 secured a first win of the season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Sunday at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. At the end of the 2hr 40 mins race duration, Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) and Ben Keating (USA) were first across the line in their number 33 car, which was sporting an eye-catching Independence Day-themed livery. This was preceded by a tactical masterstroke on the part of Mercedes-AMG team Riley Motorsports. AM driver Keating took the wheel for the qualifying session and outperformed many of his PRO opponents to secure P4 on the grid and a best starting position of the campaign so far. In his opening stint, the American kept pace with the PRO contestants and sent team-mate Bleekemolen back out onto the track in P3. The Dutch PRO likewise put in a flawless performance to prevail over the AM contestants on their stint. 15 minutes before the end of the race, Bleekemolen pulled off the decisive overtaking move of the race to take the lead for the second time, which he then retained through to the finish. At the end of the 107 laps, he sealed the team’s first win of the season.
Two IMSA milestones for the Mercedes-AMG GT4: Last Saturday, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 passed two milestones in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. In the fifth race of its debut season, the new high-performance vehicle from Affalterbach secured a maiden podium finish in the series. Damien Faulkner (IRL) and Russell Ward (USA) steered the number 33 Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 to third place in the two-hour race at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Further evidence for the competitiveness of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 was supplied in Canada by Customer Sports team Ramsey Racing, as Alexandre Premat (FRA) claimed a maiden pole for the brand in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. In the race itself, however, Premat and team-mate Mark Ramsey (USA) were dropped back down the field to finish a disappointing 14th.
Four podium appearances in the space of 24 hours: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport had a very successful 24-hour race in the 24H Series at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (POR). In the general classification, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 achieved a gratifying third place plus further strong placements with a P4 and a P5. Customer Sports team PROsport Performance led the way for the brand with third place, which was also enough for the German outfit to take the victory in the A6-AM class. Hofor Racing followed in fourth place overall. The defending champions were second in the A6-PRO class, as were SPS automotive-performance in the A6-AM category. In the general classification, the Customer Sports team took fifth place. The QSR Racing School Mercedes-AMG GT4 also took the runner-up spot in the GT4 class.
First overall victory of the season in the International GT Open: At the Hungaroring, Drivex School secured the first overall victory for a Customer Sports team in the 2018 International GT Open. Allam Khodair and Marcelo Hahn (both BRA) in the number 16 Mercedes-AMG GT3 laid the groundwork in qualifying by taking pole position. In Sunday’s race, they then put in a flawless performance to make it a lights-to-flag victory in the one-hour race. The two other Customer Sports teams – Sports & You and HTP Motorsport - MS RACING – both made it on to Sunday’s AM class podium, finishing second and third respectively. The day before, SPS automotive-performance had produced the highest placement for the brand in Saturday’s race with a P3 in the general classification, which was enough for the win in the Pro-AM class. HTP Motorsport - MS RACING scored the second class win of the day in the AM category. They were joined on the AM podium by third-placed Sports & You.
More top results from around the world: In the fourth round of the 2018 VLN on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Patrick Assenheimer and Christian Hohenadel (both GER) finished sixth overall. Driving the number 13 Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by AutoArena Motorsport, they secured an eighth Top Ten result in the ‘ Green Hell’ for the high-performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach. Stefan Karg, Fidel Leib and Moritz Oberheim produced an impressive result in the highly competitive SP10 class. The BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA trio in the number 163 Mercedes-AMG GT4 took the lead around one hour before the end of the race and then held on to claim a wildly celebrated class victory at the end of the 27-lap race duration. This is the second triumph in the SP10 class for BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA after their P1 in the in the first round of the 2018 VLN.
There were also two big events in China – the China GT Championship and the GT Masters Asia. Both series staged two races over the weekend, and a Mercedes-AMG GT3 was in the starting line-up for both. Customer Racing team D2 RACING SPORT competed in the China GT Championship at Motor Park in Beijing and finished a creditable fourth on Saturday. Kuo Hsin (CHN) then made a podium appearance on Sunday as runner-up. In the GT Masters Asia at the Ningbo International Circuit, the Linky Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Xu Wei (CHN) and Naoki Yokomizo (JPN) likewise finished fourth on Saturday and then went one better on Sunday with a P3.
Three questions for Lucas Auer
Lucas, how has the season been going from your perspective?
Lucas Auer: So far, so good. I’m not saying excellent, but it has been good. Our pace is absolutely where it needs to be, and I have taken huge steps in tyre management. That’s why I’m satisfied with the current position. This coming weekend at Zandvoort is only the halfway point in the season, and there is still a long way to go.
You mentioned tyre management. That’s certainly going to be one of the keys to success at Zandvoort. What other aspects come into play on this track?
Lucas Auer: Qualifying is half the battle at Zandvoort. If you have your tyre management under control too, then it starts to look promising. However, if you have tyre problems, it starts to get tricky. Now we have to wait and see how the current vehicle generation performs there.
Recently, you were at the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg where you appeared on TV as a race pundit. How much fun do you get out of that?
Lucas Auer: A Formula 1 race weekend at Spielberg is almost like a holiday. The setup is really cool. It’s a great feeling being there and having the opportunity to relax. After all, I am also a motor racing fan. Working with the ORF crew was a cool experience for me. It was very interesting, and I am always happy when I have the time and opportunity to appear live.
Social Media News
#PurePitWall: Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin answers fan questions about the British Grand Prix, including why we kept Valtteri out during the Safety Car and whether Lewis suffered any damage on lap one...
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwC-VfftwYU
#Memories: Lewis already has some incredible memories of the British GP, but 2017 was on a different level altogether. He looks back on an unforgettable experience...
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3S-KapZW9E
#BritishGP: “Hey, I’m here for the barbecue!” Just chilling out at the racetrack with the guys... Lewis Hamilton called in on the volunteers’ camp at Silverstone on Friday to thank them for all the hard work they put into the British Grand Prix.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejImgR-yoWI