It’s all systems go for the new season: Formula One and the DTM have
conducted their first tests of the year. Gary Paffett takes a look ahead.
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions forGary Paffett
- Social media news: What’s new online?
- This week’s important dates and events
Review: The first week in the life of the new Silver Arrow could hardly have been more exciting. First came the official launch during the team’s filming day at Silverstone, then the test debut proper on Monday in Barcelona – the first day of permissible testing for the forthcoming season. While Lewis Hamilton is already onto his fifth Silver Arrows car for Mercedes, this was a first outing for his new team-mate Valtteri Bottas. One novel feature was the use of innovative 360-degree video cameras allowing fans to take a close look at the new F1 W08 EQ Power+ and get a cockpit view complete with commentary supplied by Lewis.
Watch video – Onboard 360 degrees: www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0Ub6fattRc&t=2s
Watch video – Unveiling 360 degrees: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFbvXhjrv90&t=768s
Testing commences: The test drives in Portimao last week had a double significance, as they were not only the first in this calendar year but also the last before the homologation of the new vehicles. Until today (1st March), the three manufacturers contesting the DTM have had time to homologate their cars. After this, no major changes can be made, the idea being to prevent further costly development all round. So there was a lot of work to be done over the three test days in Portugal. The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team put in a total of 448 laps on the 4.69km circuit, equivalent to a total distance of 2,100 kilometres.
Start of Australian GT Championship: Just one month after the 12 Hours of Bathurst, the Australian GT series is also gearing up for 2017. The Clipsal 500 Event in Adelaide from 2nd to 4th March will see four Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the line-up. Scott Taylor Motorsport are entering two cars, the first driven by team owner Scott Taylor and Craig Baird (start number #222) and the sister car by Max Twigg (start number #8). Mark Griffith will be driving the number #19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by Hogs Breath Café / Griffith Corporation while Tony Bates takes the wheel of the number #24 Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3. With no fewer than 27 GT3 vehicles from eight different manufacturers on the grid, drivers, teams and fans are steeling themselves for three exciting 40-minute sprint races next weekend.
Sebring test: It was likewise just under a month ago that the Mercedes-AMG GT3 made its race debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as part of the 24 Hours of Daytona. Thanks to Riley Motorsports Team AMG, the car made an excellent impression during its first outing in North America, securing third place in the GTD class. The next standout fixture on the series list is the 12 Hours of Sebring in the week of 15th - 18th March. Riley Motorsports and SunEnergy1 Racing made thorough use of the opportunity presented by the test session at the Sebring International Raceway on 23rd and 24th February to get more test kilometres on the clock and to set the Mercedes AMG GT3 up for the Sebring track characteristics.
Three questions for Gary Paffett
Gary, what do you think are the biggest challenges this year?
Gary Paffett: The first challenge will be to get real mastery of the cars. We have a completely new car this season for the first time in several years. At the same time, there have been some relatively major changes to the regulations concerning the aerodynamics, the suspension, the downforce and the tyres. This means that we must first get an understanding of the car and how to extract maximum performance from it. After that, we have to make sure that we get this performance on a consistent basis. That applies not only to the car but also to us drivers. If you want to win the championship, you have to constantly be amongst the front-runners. It’s a tough challenge, as there are a lot of competitive drivers on the grid, but we have to try.
This year, there are a lot of race winners and potential title contenders in the squad. In Edoardo, you’ve added another over the winter. Does that present a problem?
Gary Paffett: That’s right, we have a lot of strong drivers. The team has kept growing over the last two years and has got steadily stronger. Consequently, there are more drivers who have set themselves the target of winning the championship. But I regard this as very positive development. We have a squad of drivers who spur each other on. This usually means that we are able to get the most out of the car and out of ourselves. What also matters is that we have built up a very strong team spirit over the last two years. So at the start of the season, we’ll be doing our best to beat our team-mates with fair tactics and to boost our own chances in the title fight. But when the time comes, we will work together as a team and support the driver who has the most points.
Looking at Audi and BMW now, which of them has the stronger driver line-up?
Gary Paffett: That’s a good question. At BMW, Marco Wittmann is on a good run. He’s been champion twice in the last three seasons and always puts in a solid performance. As for the other drivers, it’s a mixed bag. Audi have lost Edoardo, but overall I believe they have the better squad compared to BMW. In Mattias Ekström and Jamie Green, they have two of the favourites for the title, but some of their other drivers are also capable of winning races. Personally, I believe that Mercedes have the best line-up, with Audi in second place.
Social Media News
#F1nightshift: Testing is underway. Before the season starts in Australia, the teams have only eight test days to prepare the new cars (and drivers) for their Grand Prix debut. This means a lot of work for the Silver Arrows mechanics on the F1 night shift. We watched them in action at the track in Barcelona ...
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvrg8XThFZs
#It’sOn: Unveiling, first laps, live interviews – what a great occasion for the Silver Arrows as we launched the new F1 W08 EQ Power+ at Silverstone. We look back at the best moments of the day with Lewis and Valtteri.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9W4_NSg4es
#Q&A: The brand new F1 W08 EQ Power+ was obviously the main act at Silverstone, but the real stars of the day were our faithful Silver Arrows fans! Lewis, Valtteri, Toto, Aldo and Andy took time out to supply detailed answers to their most burning questions about the new season in a live Q&A session.
Watch video – Lewis Hamilton: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYDVxGb9WcU
Watch video – Valtteri Bottas: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_31hHWm0N70
Watch video – Toto Wolff: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO6xOCKBKqk&t
Watch video – Aldo Costa & Andy Cowell: www.youtube.com/watch?v=846rwZo9tp8
#ThisIsWhyWeRace: The DTM thrives on emotion and on the enthusiasm of the fans in the grandstands. Team captain Gary Paffett explains how the passion of the fans communicates itself to the drivers and spurs them on to greater things.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=x99Hwo1l5EE