Mercedes-AMG Motorsport enjoyed a successful return to the series in the DTM season opener at Monza in Italy. In the first of the two sprint races, Vincent Abril (MCO) and Maximilian Götz (GER) with the Mercedes-AMG GT3s of Mercedes-AMG Team HRT finished in second and third place and therefore secured podium results on the comeback. With third place in the Sunday race, Lucas Auer (AUT) added another podium result with the car with starting number 22 run by Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD.
The long-standing Autodromo Nazionale Monza was the venue for Mercedes-AMG’s comeback in DTM. A series to which the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach decisively contributed with 11 drivers’, 14 teams’ and seven manufacturers’ titles. In the first of this season’s eight events, the drivers of the Mercedes-AMG Teams got their campaigns off to a very good start with a strong performance in Qualifying 1. Four Mercedes-AMG GT3s locked out the first four places in qualifying. The fastest driver was Vincent Abril, who secured the first pole position of the DTM season with the #5 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT entry. After the flying start, during which Abril defended his lead in a commanding way, there were temporarily even five Mercedes-AMG GT3s at the front of the field. From this quintet, the HRT duo of Abril and Maximilian Götz (#4) clearly remained on course for the podium as the race went on. Until the halfway mark, Abril led the high-quality field. During the mandatory tyre change, however, the chasers were able to close up. Shortly after rejoining the race, Abril had to let the eventual race winner pass and ended up second from his teammate Götz. As a result, they secured a double podium finish after 50 minutes for Mercedes-AMG in the first DTM race since 2018. With Daniel Juncadella in the #8 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing car in fifth place and Maximilian Buhk in the #18 Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport entry in seventh, two further Mercedes-AMG GT3 drivers scored the first championship points of the season.
Race 2: Podium success for Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD
In qualifying for the second of the two 50-minute races, five Mercedes-AMG GT3s ended up in sixth to tenth place on the grid. The Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD duo of Lucas Auer (#22, AUT) and Philip Ellis (#57, SUI) did best in the opening laps and initially remained on course for a top 6 position. This time, the Mercedes-AMG Teams opted for comparatively early pit stops. This tactic paid off for Auer in particular. All drivers having completed their mandatory tyre change, the experienced DTM driver found himself up in third place. As the race went on, the Austrian kept going with consistently fast laps at the Italian high-speed circuit and eventually crossed the finish line in third place. Classified sixth, teammate Ellis contributed to the good team result for Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD. In both Mercedes-AMG Team HRT cars, the success ballast with which Abril and Götz had to start the race following their podium results from the previous day, became apparent. Still, Götz scored another championship point in tenth place.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “We are very happy with the season opener. Finishing on the podium in both races straight away on Mercedes-AMG’s return to DTM is great. Once again, our teams have been able to clearly showcase the strengths of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Also with maximum ballast in the second race, it was still possible to secure valuable points. Congratulations to Mercedes-AMG Team HRT and Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD on the podium results! I would like to thank all the teams that have accomplished great things in preparation for the season opener in the past months. Nevertheless, especially in DTM, it is true that you can’t rest on your laurels. Here, we will still be facing a lot of work in the competition with the strong opposition. But we are happy to take on this challenge and we are looking forward to the next races.”
Vincent Abril, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT (#5): “I am really happy! I am delighted for the team, for Mercedes-AMG and, of course, I am also happy with my own performance! Starting the season with a podium finish is always a great feeling, especially in such a competitive and high-class race series. We can build on this.”
Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT (#4): “A very good result and a great start for the entire team and also for us as the drivers. We were running with a slightly different tyre strategy as we still wanted to have some reserve at the end of the race. That worked out well and I was able to close up quickly to the front. I am happy with third place to start with.”
Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD (#22): “Our strategy was super. We had saved a fresh set of tyres for the second part of the race on Sunday and that was decisive. That enabled us to make an undercut which was the basis for the podium finish, many thanks to the team!”