Tales from the paddock – Ulrich Fritz: “It’s only when it really counts that everyone reveals their hand”
The long winter break is over. Next weekend, the new DTM campaign gets underway at Hockenheim. Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Ulrich Fritz looks forward to the 2018 season.
- This is what happened: Weekend results and facts
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Ulrich Fritz
- Social media news: What’s new online?
This is what happened: Results and facts
- Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku and takes over at the top of the Drivers’ World Championship
- ADAC GT Masters: Maximilian Götz and Markus Pommer win the second race at Most
Stat-Attack – Baku: The Baku City Circuit once again lived up to its reputation for spectacular racing. At the end of the third Grand Prix through the streets of the Azerbaijan capital, Lewis Hamilton found himself on the top spot of the podium. For Lewis, it was a maiden victory in Azerbaijan. At the same time, it was the first victory of the year for the team. The 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was additionally the 275th Formula 1 race led by a Mercedes-Benz powered car. Lewis’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas also clocked up kilometres as race leader. Sadly, a devastating puncture took him out of the race three laps from the end of the race and cost him a first win of the season that had looked to be in the bag.
One last opener: The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team commences its anniversary season with the opening fixture of the 2018 DTM next weekend (4th - 6th May) at Hockenheim. The first time a Mercedes works team entered the event was 30 years ago. In addition to the 18 registered contestants for this year’s championship, there will be a 19th driver on the grid at the weekend. Former champion Mattias Ekström will be there as a guest starter for two farewell races. “It’s something I have not seen before,” says Gary Paffett. “He didn’t announce that he was retiring before the end of the season, so he didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. The guest start offers him a good opportunity to do so. The more cars in the field, the better. As long as he doesn’t cause too much trouble on the track, I think we will be OK.”
Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing on the podium around the world: Czech Republic, USA, England, France, Brazil – wherever GT racing cars supplied by Mercedes-AMG were competing last weekend, there were also victories or podium finishes to report. In the ADAC GT Masters at Most (Czech Republic), Maximilian Götz and Markus Pommer (both GER) completed a lights-to-flag victory for MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport in Sunday’s race. Indy Dontje (NED) and Maximilian Buhk (GER) driving MANN-FILTER’s second Mercedes-AMG GT3 celebrated second place in the Junior classification on Saturday.
Another victory came in the Pirelli World Challenge: Mike Skeen and Scott Heckert (both USA) driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by Lone Star Racing won the SprintX race at the Virginia International Raceway. Their success was also the first victory for a customer racing team in the USA in 2018. Daniel Morad (CAN) driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 prepared by CRP Racing set a new fastest lap record for the tradition-steeped American circuit.
The British GT Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway was won by ERC Sport drivers Lee Mowle (GBR) and Yelmer Buurman (NED). In their Mercedes-AM GT3, they advanced from P12 on the grid during the course of the two-hour race to top the podium. In the three races contested on the DMV GTC weekend at the Circuit de Dijon-Prenois in France, there were no fewer than three podium finishes for our Customer Racing teams. In the 60-minute Friday race, Uwe Alzen and Dietmar Haggenmüller (both GER) driving the Spirit Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 claimed the runner-up spot, closely followed by third-placed Kenneth Heyer and Josef Klüber (both GER) in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of équipe vitesse. In the 30-minute sprint on Saturday, Kenneth Heyer clinched another podium in third place.
In the Campeonato Brasileiro de Endurance (Brazilian Endurance Championship) at the Autódromo Internacional de Curitiba, a Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by the father-son duo of Xandy and Xandinho Negrão (Team Scuderia 111) came through in third place at the end of the four-hour race. There was also a podium for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 at the weekend in the GT4 Central European Cup, staged as a support series to the ADAC GT Masters in Most: Freddy Fast (AUT) secured third place in the Mercedes-AMG GT4 entered by Lechner Racing.
Three questions for Ulrich Fritz
Uli, the waiting is nearly over, and the new season of the DTM starts this weekend. What is the prevailing mood in the team?
Ulrich Fritz: Very good. The anticipation everyone is feeling is obviously great. You spend all winter working on the new cars and getting your fitness level up for the first race, so you now want to see how good your preparations have been or whether the opposition is perhaps just that bit better. Sure, the tests give you some idea, but as the saying goes in English, “when the flag drops, the bullshit stops”. In other words, it’s only when it really counts that everyone reveals their hand. My hope is that all three manufacturers will be closely matched and that we at last have a season in which the focus is on the sport.
How would you sum up the preparations?
Ulrich Fritz: I think they have gone well despite some obstacles along the way. Those started with the chaotic weather conditions during the tests in Italy. We really hadn’t been expecting snow. However, the weather did actually help us when we lost our test car on the second day. Because of the conditions, the others were unable to get much more done than we did. In the run-up to Hockenheim, we received the bad news from Dani that he had broken his collarbone. Although no one believed it possible at the time, he then went on to complete the full test programme, and he’s been passed fit for the start of the season. That borders on a miracle for me. Otherwise, everything went relatively as normal and the guys in the workshop did a great job.
The idea has been floated in the media that HWA might compete in the DTM next year as a private team. What’s your opinion?
Ulrich Fritz: Yes, that is the case. Would we be capable of doing that in terms of the engineering and the staff? Yes, sure. Would it be productive to compete as a private team against factory teams entered by manufacturers? Probably not. Apart from that, I hardly think that a project of this nature can be serious and viable if it relies on private finance.
Social Media News
#ThoreVisitsLucas: “Welcome to my home!” With these words, Lucas Auer greets Thore Schölermann to his Austrian homeland. In the two-part video we learn more about his house, his caps and his trophies ...
Watch Part 1: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhlkSgvCkQ0
Watch Part 1: www.youtube.com/watch?v=prJROO8FjnA
#TestReview: While last-minute preparations for the DTM season opener at Hockenheim are in full swing, we look back at the final test at the same venue, a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue7jLfujpEg