Tales from the paddock – Battle of the DTM title contenders, Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett

10.
October 2018
Stuttgart

Hockenheim will host the grand finale of the 2018 DTM season this weekend. There are only four points separating Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett at the top of the table.

  • This is what happened: Results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Three questions for Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett
  • Social media news: What’s new online?

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • Formula 1: At Suzuka, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas achieve a second one-two win for the team within a week
  • VLN: Patrick Assenheimer and Dominik Baumann win the eighth round of the 2018 VLN season on the Nordschleife ahead of Edoardo Mortara and Renger van der Zande

News snippets

Stat-Attack – Japanese GP: Suzuka was the setting for a minor milestone last weekend: it was the 30th time that a Formula 1 Grand Prix was contested on this legendary figure-of-eight track. In these 30 races, there have been 15 different winners, and on four occasions, Lewis Hamilton has stood on the top rung of the podium. The four-time world champion not only booked his 80th Formula 1 pole position last weekend but also registered his 71st Grand Prix victory. This ninth win of the season also constituted Hamilton’s 50th success as a driver for the Brackley-based outfit. Race runner-up Valtteri Bottas achieved his first podium finish on Japanese soil and the 30th of his Formula 1 career. For the team, Suzuka was the second one-two win within the space of a week, the fourth of this season, and the fifth race win in succession at the Suzuka Circuit.

Hockenheim, here we come: It won’t be long now. This coming weekend, the outcome of the thrilling 2018 DTM championship will be decided one way or another. There are still three drivers in contention for the title: Paul Di Resta (229 points), Gary Paffett (225 points) and René Rast (199 points). It is a home race for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, but that’s not the only reason this will be a very special occasion: as the 30th anniversary season for the brand in the DTM reaches its conclusion, the two races will also spell the end of Mercedes’ involvement in the touring car series. So far, the Hockenheimring has been a happy hunting ground for the team: a tally of 35 wins makes Mercedes-AMG the most successful manufacturer on this particular circuit. Four members of the current six-man squad already have at least one victory at Hockenheim to their name: Gary (5 wins), Paul, Edoardo Mortara (2 wins each) and Lucas Auer (1 win). The most recent of these victories went to Gary on the opening weekend of the season early in May.

One-two win and class victory in VLN 8: AutoArena Motorsport won the eighth VLN race of the season and at the same time registered a maiden victory in the general classification of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring. Their number 13 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was driven by Patrick Assenheimer (GER) and Dominik Baumann (AUT). With the ninth and final race of the campaign still to come, Assenheimer is now in third place in the SP9 PRO class and a strong contender for the highly coveted VLN Class Winners’ Trophy in 2018. Race runners-up Edoardo Mortara (ITA) and Renger van der Zande (NED) of SPS automotive-performance rounded off an excellent weekend for the brand in the Eifel. This one-two victory for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport slightly overshadowed a victory in the SP10 class for the number 163 Mercedes-AMG GT4 entered by BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA. First place in the 50th ADAC Barbarossa Prize for Hubert Haupt, Stefan Karg, Fidel Leib and Moritz Oberheim (all GER) represents the fourth victory in class for the team in the current VLN season. In the championship standings, the team is in second place.

Podium finishes and championship runner-up in the DMV GTC: On the eighth and final weekend of the DMV-GTC at Hockenheim, Mario Hirsch (GER) in the number 40 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Ernst Kirchmayr (AUT) in the number 20 car entered by Race-Art.eu both scored points in the first race on Saturday, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. In Race 2, Kenneth Heyer (GER) in the number 5 équipe Vitesse car came second, which was enough to finish the season as runner-up in the Class 1 championship. Russel Ward (USA) in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Team Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport came third after starting from fourth on the grid. On Friday, Ward partnered by Fabian Vettel finished third in the DUNLOP 60 race. In Class 1 Pro-AM, Dietmar Haggenmüller (GER) in the number 55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 won the 2018 title in the special classification by a clear margin.

International podiums and racing successes: The first race of the weekend in the Campeonato de España Resistencia at the Circuito del Jarama was won by Antonio Escámez and Miguel Ángel de Castro (both ESP) in the Team Drivex School SLS AMG GT3. Christer Lindholm and Gregor Dobrowolski (both SWE) in the Mercedes-AMG GT4 of SPV Racing were runners-up in Class 3. The Swedish duo went one better in Race 2, winning the final outing of the 2018 campaign. T.K.R. Racing came out on top in the China Endurance Championship contested on the Wuhan Street Circuit: Melvin Moh (MAS), Xu Wei and Han Songting (both CHN) driving the number 777 Mercedes-AMG GT3 claimed both the class and overall victory in the two-hour race. In Race 1 of the China GT Championship, also hosted by Wuhan, the number 2 Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by D2 RACING SPORT and driven by Kuo Kuo Hsin (CHN) finished first in its class. At Fuji Speedway in Japan, Koshido Racing claimed the class and overall victory of the day in the second of the two races in the Super Car Race Series. Their number 11 SLS AMG GT3 was driven by Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Motoharu Sato (both JAP). There was yet another class victory plus several podium finishes to celebrate on the concluding weekend of the GT4 Central European Cup held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. In the first race, the number 30 Mercedes-AMG GT4 entered by Selleslagh Racing Team and driven by Nicolas Vandierendonck (BEL) and Bas Schouten (NED) took second place in the Pro-AM Cup. In the Am Cup, Freddy Fast (AUT) in the number 48 car finished as runner-up; in the second race, the Austrian secured the class victory. In the class and team championships, Fast and Lechner Racing have now finished the season in fourth place. The pairing of Vandierendonck and Schouten made another podium appearance in the final race, having finished third in their class.

Three questions for Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett

What are your expectations for the last race weekend at Hockenheim?

Paul Di Resta: Our expectations are the same as for every race. Hopefully, we’ll be going in with a very positive car. It’s a big weekend obviously, given it’s the championship battle and we’re in the lead going into the finale. It would be nice to finish in that position. I think consistency is going to be the key factor. We have to make sure that we score points on both days. And of course, qualifying, especially the points for the Top 3, will play a crucial role. I think everybody needs to lift their game. We’ve had a very solid year so far, and we mustn’t let complacency creep in, because we have to ensure that we achieve our number one goal of beating Rast. From there on, we can have a good battle to see who is crowned champion. Hopefully, a lot of fans will come to the track to see the season finale and the last two races for Mercedes live.

Gary Paffett: I expect a tough fight this weekend. It will not be easy, but we’ve had a really competitive car every weekend so far. So I think we can expect to be competitive, but it is going to be tough. Just because we are leading the championship doesn’t mean it is going to be easy to be at the front. We have to work very hard and just continue in the same manner as we’ve approached the other nine weekends of the season.

How much of a threat does René Rast pose in the title fight?

Paul Di Resta: Considering what happened at Spielberg last time and how they handled the race, René is quite a threat. At the same time, we can hopefully put ourselves in a stronger position in qualifying and then concentrate on race setup, teamwork, pit stops and race starts so that we are 100 percent focused and make sure we get the job done. But I would expect Audi to be equally strong at Hockenheim.

Gary Paffett: René is indeed a threat. If you look at his pace since Zandvoort, he has been very strong, but on the other hand, he is still a fair amount of points behind us. He is 30 points back from Paul and 26 from me. If we had been offered this at the beginning of the season, we would certainly have taken it. I think, though, that his performance means he has a good chance of racing with us and giving us a good fight at the weekend. But I feel we are enough points ahead to be able to stay in front. We have to make sure we don’t make any mistakes, but I am feeling confident that we can finish off the season with a Mercedes car winning the championship.

How does it feel knowing that you will be competing in your last DTM race for Mercedes on Sunday?

Paul Di Resta: Sunday is certainly going to be a sad occasion; after all, I’ve been part of the Mercedes family for so long, especially in the DTM. I started with them as a professional racing driver, and here I am today, 32 years old and still with the same team. I don’t think I can say anything about it until it really is over. Given the position we are in, we can’t afford to think that far ahead, because we need to ensure that we are focused on one thing only, and that’s performance and getting the result we need to win the championship. It’s been an incredible journey for the whole team over the last 30 years, and when we are all there on Sunday night, hopefully to celebrate, we will remember the good times.

Gary Paffett: It’s a bit strange. Because of the championship fight we are engrossed in, I don’t really have any time to think about the fact that it is the last race for Mercedes in the DTM, the last race for me with Mercedes, and the last race for me in the DTM for the foreseeable future as well. After all, I’ll be switching to Formula E after the end of the season. It’s a massive occasion, and honestly, I don’t think we are going to feel it. It is going to take a while for it to sink in. Mercedes and the DTM have been my life. My whole professional racing career has been with Mercedes in the DTM. For that to come to an end is huge. I hope we can finish off with a cherry on top, having won the drivers’ title for Mercedes. Sunday night will certainly be a strange feeling.

Social Media News

#RaceSupportRoom: Thousands of miles away from the racetrack, deep inside team headquarters at Brackley, is the Formula 1 counterpart to NASA Mission Control. We reveal what happens on a race weekend at an F1 factory.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uAN0YoiUT0&t=5s

#DTM finale: Ahead of the grand finale to the 2018 DTM season, we take a look back at the team’s record of success at Hockenheim.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZaNUPR0qww

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    SPS automotive-performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 #10
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    Finish: AutoArena Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 #13
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    Podium: Baumann/Assenheimer (left/right) and Mortara/v.d. Zande (middle)
  • MercedesAMGCustomerRacing_VLN_8_2018_04
    BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA #163
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