Tales from the paddock – Stefan Wendl: “We have a score to settle in the GT3 big event at Spa-Francorchamps”

Jul 12, 2017

It has been an action-packed and successful first half to the GT3 season. Stefan Wendl, Head of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Programme, sums up the state of play at this halfway point in the campaign.

  • This is what happened: Weekend results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Three questions for Stefan Wendl
  • Social media news: What’s new online?
  • This week’s important dates and events

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • F1: Valtteri Bottas claims Formula 1 victory number two in the Austrian Grand Prix
  • Australian GT Championship: Scott Taylor takes second place in the first race at Townsville – Max Twigg in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 wins the third race
  • DMV GTC: Uwe Alzen driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 finishes runner-up in the second race at the Hockenheimring

News snippets

Stat-Attack – Spielberg: The ninth race of the Formula 1 season was dominated by Valtteri Bottas. On Saturday, the Finn claimed his second Formula 1 pole position in a time of 1:04.251 minutes, thereby setting the fastest lap ever recorded on the Austrian circuit. It was also the seventh pole in nine races for the team. Sunday was an equally good day for Valtteri as he got off to an absolute rocket of a start with a reaction time of 0.201 seconds – it doesn’t get any faster than that. In an exciting finish to the race, he crossed the line 0.658 seconds ahead of runner-up Sebastian Vettel. This second Grand Prix victory for Valtteri had a certain déjà-vu feel to it: on his maiden win at Sochi, he took the chequered flag ahead of main pursuer Vettel by a similar margin of 0.617 seconds. Valtteri certainly seems to like keeping it tight! For the team, it was a fourth consecutive triumph at Spielberg: in 2014 and 2015, the winner was Nico Rosberg, in 2016 Lewis Hamilton and now Valtteri Bottas. However, the fastest lap of the race (1:07.411 minutes) was clocked by Lewis as he went flat out on his charge through the field.

The Home of British Motor Racing: Just a few days after the ninth race of the season in the Austrian Alps, the team goes into action again next weekend in its home race at Silverstone. The British Grand Prix, which is held not far from the two factories at Brackley and Brixworth, has been a highly successful fixture for the Silver Arrows in recent years, with one driver or the other occupying the top spot of the podium four times in a row. In 2013, Nico Rosberg ran out winner on the track in Northamptonshire, while local favourite Lewis Hamilton has won the last three encounters. Lewis has made six podium appearances in his home Grand Prix, with no fewer than four of these being for the race win. Cars powered by Mercedes engines have a record of nine victories, ten pole positions and 24 podium places at this race venue.

Victory and second place in the Australian GT Championship: Three races were contested ‘down under’ last weekend on the Townsville Street Circuit. Max Twigg (AUS) celebrated a victory in Race 3 on the 2.85km track. Starting from eighth on the grid, the Scott Taylor Motorsport squad member driving the number 8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 took the lead after the pit stop and retained it to the end, crossing the line 2.4 seconds ahead of the second-placed car. In the first race on Saturday, team owner and driver Scott Taylor (AUS) in the number 222 Mercedes-AMG GT3 secured second place after mounting a strong charge through the field from twelfth on the grid. The next (and also final) race of the 2017 Australian GT Championship sprint series is scheduled to take place at Sandown Raceway on 15th September.

Three questions for Stefan Wendl

Stefan, over recent years, you have been heavily involved in the development of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Not long ago, you were appointed as the new Head of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Programme. What responsibilities does this job entail?

Stefan Wendl: The new title extends my range of responsibilities right down to the last tiny detail of our Customer Racing Programme. That includes the planning of actual race weekends as well as the basic strategic direction: Where do we want to go with the programme, how can we further develop it, and how do we go about accomplishing that? Questions of this nature are now an important part of my work. This also includes personnel issues, for example, which drivers or teams do we wish to collaborate with? Because of my previous duties in customer sport, I am already heavily engaged in the area and have good connections to all the individual departments. I hope that the new role will leave me enough time to get to the racetrack itself as much as possible and to support our teams with my experience.

How would you sum up the customer sport situation at this halfway point in the season?

Stefan Wendl: It’s a very positive situation. Our successful entry into the US market is certainly worth highlighting. At our very first attempt, we have secured several podium finishes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge. Our customer teams are doing very well in the various championship standings. The situation in the Blancpain GT Series and in the Japanese Super GT300 is similarly promising. In both championships, our customer teams are in contention for the titles. We were unable to reprise our previous year’s success in the highlight of the season, the 24-hour Nürburgring race. But let’s face it, that was predictable – if you register a historic win and a Top Four lockout, it’s going to be almost impossible to repeat, let alone improve on. Nevertheless, everyone did their best, and I’m sure that we will return to the Nürburgring in 2018 stronger than before.

What are the major fixtures that we can look forward to in the second half of the season?

Stefan Wendl: The second half of the season starts with the world’s biggest GT3 event at Spa-Francorchamps. The 24-hour race in the Ardennes is always a special occasion for Mercedes-AMG, because that’s where AMG as a racing sport brand first came to prominence in 1971. This year, we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary, so a win at Spa would obviously be very welcome. Especially since we just missed out on victory in the general classification last year and had to content ourselves with second place, so you could say that we have a score to settle there. It’s not only in the USA that our customers are challenging for the championship titles, so there is still plenty to play for. And towards the end of the year, we will be seeing a new member of our Customer Racing family entering the fray.

Social Media News

#GFoS: Donuts, burnouts and cheering crowds... Iconic cars and famous drivers all gathered in one place – this can only be the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4BWiP8xn30

#HomeRace: How does Toto Wolff stay focused for his home race? The Mercedes-Benz Motorsport boss reveals how, with the help of Bose QC35 headphones, he is able to concentrate fully during his home race.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Kd8lhfiKg

#Maro’sDay: What is a typical day at the racetrack like for a DTM driver? Jennifer Stolz now knows first-hand. Our competition winner accompanied Maro Engel for the day at the legendary Norisring in Nuremberg.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj8pxy6wnXg

#ThisIsDTM: Spectacular racing action, enthusiastic fans and emotions running high on the podium – the DTM has so much more than just two races to offer every race weekend. We take a look behind the scenes at the Norisring.

Watch video – Highlights: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq6XYHU33g8

Watch video – Chequered flag for Race 2: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgpsgOuAi8I

Watch video – Onboard footage of the Paffett accident: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q6F3kqeUmc

#RaceBase: Where do the engineers work when they are at the race track? What goes on inside the team's secret race base? Jennifer Braun gives exclusive insights behind the scenes of our sacred 'Race Base'.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdI18h6lV3g

Upcoming events & dates



Thursday 13/07/2017

F1: British GP – Media Day

Friday 14/07/2017

F1: British GP – Practice 1 & 2

Saturday 15/07/2017

F1: British GP – Practice 3 & Qualifying

Sunday 16/07/2017

F1: British GP – Race

Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Austrian GP 2017. Valtteri Bottas
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Austrian GP 2017. Valtteri Bottas
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Austrian GP 2017. Valtteri Bottas
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Austrian GP 2017. Valtteri Bottas