Tales from the paddock – Maro Engel: “May is a mega race month for me”
After the successful DTM season opener for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport at Hockenheim, the Silver Arrows are back in action for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona this coming weekend.
- This is what happened: Weekend results and facts
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Maro Engel
- Social media news: What’s new online?
- This week’s important dates and events
This is what happened: Weekend’s results & facts
- DTM: Lucas Auer wins the opening race of the 2017 DTM at Hockenheim, while Gary Paffett finishes on the podium in Race 2
- DTM: After the first weekend of the season, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport are on top in all three championships – drivers’, team and manufacturers’
- Blancpain GT Series: Daniel Juncadella and Felix Serralles driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 finish fourth in Race 1
- 24H Series: Hofor Racing win their class in the 24-hour race
- IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: Victory number three for Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the IMSA
Barcelona, here we come: Formula One returns to familiar territory next weekend. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was where the teams spent eight days testing their new cars in February and March of this year. The Silver Arrows have two Spanish GP wins to their credit in recent years – Lewis Hamilton in 2014 and Nico Rosberg in 2015. Cars powered by Mercedes engines have secured seven wins, eight pole positions and 19 podium appearances in the Formula One races so far staged at this venue on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Stat Attack Hockenheim 1: What a start to the new DTM season! 79,500 fans came through the gates at Hockenheim for the opening weekend of the campaign and witnessed exceptionally tight margins between the teams, spectacular racing and a very special milestone. On the occasion of the 400th race entered by Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in either the DTM or ITC, the team notched up pole position number 123, their 521st and 522nd podium appearances, and their 176th championship victory. Furthermore, the brand with the three-pointed star was the only one of the three manufacturers to have four of its drivers finish among the Top Ten in both races. Consequently, the team comes away from Hockenheim leading all three championships: Lucas Auer is top of the drivers’ standings on 40 points, while Mercedes-AMG lead the constructors’ table on 92 points and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport BWT the team table on 52 points.
Pink Panther: Saturday’s race was dominated by one of the two ‘Pink Panthers’: Lucas Auer easily qualified in pole position for the season opener before claiming his second DTM victory. He achieved this magnificent feat 20 years after his uncle Gerhard Berger (now 1st President of the ITR) recorded the final victory of his Formula One career. That was in the 1997 German Grand Prix, also at Hockenheim, when he secured the treble of race win, pole position and fastest race lap. On Sunday, Lucas in P4 narrowly missed out on another podium. But that result, combined with Saturdays’ victory, sufficed to make him the current leader in the drivers’ standings.
New era: The Hockenheim weekend was not just the start of the new DTM season but also ushered in a new DTM era. After intensive work over the winter, the new generation of vehicles from the three manufacturers made their debut under competitive conditions. The revised regulations have required a number of changes to be made to the cars: for example, more than 70 percent of the components in the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM are new. And the modifications as well as the new DTM tyres have had a dramatic effect: Lucas’s pole-setting time in the first qualifying session of the season on Saturday was 1:30.849 minutes. Compare this with the pole time on the same track in the final fixture of the 2016 campaign, which was 1:32.344 minutes. The new Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM was thus around one and a half seconds faster than the previous incarnation on the same track seven months earlier.
Second sprint event in the Blancpain GT Series: The third race of the season, namely the second Sprint event of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series year, was contested at Brands Hatch in Kent last weekend. In Race 1, Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Felix Serralles (PUR) started from sixth place and crossed the finish line in their Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by AKKA ASP in fourth position. An additional Top Ten placing went to the sister car (#90) driven by Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and Michael Meadows (GBR) who came eighth. In the main race, defending champion Maximilian Buhk (GER) and his co-driver Franck Perera (FRA) finished sixth. The HTP Motorsport pairing showed their mettle by gaining no fewer than 17 positions over the course of the sixty-minute race after starting from a lowly 23rd on the grid due to a puncture in the quali. The two of them together with their HTP Motorsport team still lead the Sprint Cup standings in the Blancpain GT Series. AKKA ASP squad members Marciello and Meadows came home in the Top Ten again, this time with a P7 in the main race. Mercedes-AMG Motorsport also had a decent result in the Silver Cup class, with HTP Motorsport juniors Fabian Schiller (GER) and Jules Szymkowiak (NED) finishing second in this category in both races. Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Joules Gounon (both FRA) in the Pro-Am class likewise made two podium appearances, one for a P2 in the first race and one for a P3 in the main race.
Runners-up in the Japanese Super GT: The Mercedes-AMG GT3s entered by the Japanese teams made an immediate impression in qualifying last Wednesday on the Fuji Speedway. In the second round of the Super GT Series, Tatsuya Kataoka and Nobuteru Taniguchi (both JPN) of GOODSMILE Racing secured pole position, with the number 11 GAINER Mercedes-AMG GT3 not far behind in P3. In the 102-lap race itself, the GAINER duo of Katsuyuki Hiranaka (JAP) and Björn Wirdheim (SWE) moved up one position to finish second. Haruki Kurosawa and Naoya Gamou (both JPN) in the number 65 LEON RACING Mercedes-AMG GT3 staged a magnificent charge up the field from 15th, improving by ten positions to finish fifth. The number four GOODSMILE Racing car took the flag in eleventh position. In the GT300 class team standings, Mercedes-AMG GT3 are positioned second, third and fourth (LEON RACING, GOODSMILE Racing, GAINER).
Top Five results in the Australian GT: In the first of two races, Max Twigg (AUS) of Scott Taylor Motorsport was engaged in a tight scrap for the podium but ultimately had to settle for fifth. Tony Bates of Eggleston Motorsport was able to improve from eleventh to sixth place on Lap 1. After the pit stops, he took the lead and managed to defend it for several laps. Towards the end, he and Max Twigg (Mercedes-AMG GT3 #8) were locked in a thrilling battle for Top Five honours. Bates crossed the line in fourth, and Twigg followed in fifth.
Three questions for Maro Engel
Maro, that was your first DTM race weekend after a five-year absence. How did your comeback go for you?
Maro Engel: It was great fun driving the car and working with the team. The atmosphere at the DTM season opener in Hockenheim is always one of the highlights of the season. What gave me the most pleasure, of course, was the fact that we have a good car. The hard work done by the team over the winter has clearly borne fruit. We have a strong car with which we can look forward to the rest of the season. From a team perspective, the weekend was very successful. Lucas won the first race and we lead all three championships. From my own personal point of view, I can also look back on a positive start, especially with regard to qualifying. Two Top Ten grid positions were a great way to get off the mark. That’s something I can build on. Then on Sunday, I also scored my first championship point. That was nice, but I could almost certainly have finished even higher.
Hand on heart, were you at all worried before the weekend that you might not be on the same level as the other drivers? You didn’t have much time to prepare yourself in the car for the season start...
Maro Engel: Obviously, one and a half test days with the car and the new tyres is the bare minimum. But I tried to blank that out and not to think too hard about results. The only thing that mattered was to do my job. Going into the race weekend, we couldn’t know exactly where we would stand vis à vis the others. We knew that we’d had a good test but also that we still had work to do. That’s why it was good to see that we were fully competitive. There were no real doubts, but I couldn’t be sure. I knew there was a certain gap in testing. I couldn’t be too sure, but there again, I didn’t have mega doubts either. Anyway, you can suddenly find yourself last on the grid in any DTM qualifying session, so it was a relief to see that we were competitive.
You have four race engagements on four successive weekends. How difficult is it to adjust to another car and to keep switching between a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM and a Mercedes-AMG GT3?
Maro Engel: These are four big occasions which I’m really looking forward to. May is a mega race month for me. It’s clearly a challenge, but so far I’ve always coped very well. The more you switch between vehicles, the better you adapt. Each car has its own characteristics and quirks that you have to factor into your driving. I’m now hoping that I’ll be as successful in doing that this year as I have been in the past.
Social Media News
#F1Onboard: Driving through central Budapest at a speed of 250kph! Join Valtteri Bottas and an old friend – the F1 W05 Hybrid – as they navigate the streets of the Hungarian capital. This action-packed tour includes plenty of burnouts and donuts!
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8IuJBoKmxs
#PurePitWall: A look back at Valtteri’s first Grand Prix victory in the Russian Grand Prix hosted by the city of Sochi. The early safety car deployment and the low level of tyre degradation influenced the team’s strategy.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdkVO0tuVvg
#400Races: What a milestone weekend! In the home race of the team at Hockenheim, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport contested their 400th DTM/ITC race on Sunday. A look back at 400 races characterised by action, thrills and success...
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBrKNJr0PPg
#DrivenByEachOther: The Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team is one big happy family that is made up of more than just the racing drivers. We introduce the people in the background and examine what drives them day after day in the pursuit of perfection – all for the love of racing!
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0DDqPTuQ9I
Upcoming events & dates
Formula One: Spanish GP 2017 – Media Day
Formula One: Spanish GP 2017 – Practice 1 & 2
Formula One: Spanish GP 2017 – Practice 3 & Qualifying
Formula One: Spanish GP 2017 – Race
Blancpain GT Series: Silverstone – Race