The 5th DTM weekend brought a rollercoaster of emotions for the Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport team at the Austrian Red Bull Ring. In the 9th round of the DTM season on Saturday, a time penalty of five seconds relegated Maximilian Buhk to 12th place in his #18 Mercedes-AMG GT3, which is equipped with the Space Drive steer-by-wire system from Schaeffler Paravan and does not require any mechanical connection at all between the steering unit and the steering gearbox. With 9th place in Sunday’s race, the 28-year-old AMG driver was then finally able to score DTM points again. However, bad luck in qualifying and minor collisions on the track once again cost the Mercedes-AMG GT3 several ranks.
The team gave away one point in the DTM standings in the first DTM round of the weekend on the good 4.3-kilometer race track due to a five-second time penalty for disregarding the track limits – driving with all four wheels beyond the white track markings. Finishing tenth, the Hamburg driver later slipped back two positions. Track limits have always been an issue at the Red Bull Ring due to the high speed in the corners. In the first race, 16 drivers were cautioned. Until then, Buhk had delivered a good race. In the fiercely contested qualifying session, Buhk had put himself in a good starting position with 10th on the grid, just 0.3 seconds behind the best Mercedes-AMG. He held his ground well in the turbulent starting phase and gained some breathing room with an early pit stop at the end of lap five, despite two touches that slightly affected the front splitter and diffuser.
After six races without points, Maximilian Buhk finally scored points again in the second round of the DTM. After 38 laps, he finished ninth, thanks to two time penalties at the front of the field, and scored two DTM points for himself and Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport with ninth place since the race at the Lausitzring in July. But even in this race more would have been possible. Buhk lost his two fastest laps by exceeding the track limits in qualifying. The result was all the more sobering with 13th place on the grid. The performance of the #18 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was comparable to the other Mercedes, with the exception of the dominant Maximilian Götz. Again he was touched twice on the straight by a competitor. This action robbed Buhk of two more points in the end. Shortly before the end, something must have broken on the car as a result of the collision and he lost valuable time in the last two laps, which ultimately cost 8th place. This time, as on Saturday, the team relied on an early pit stop.
The Red Bull Ring with its 4.3-kilometer track is something very special for drivers and team. The spacious race track and the type of curves give the drivers the freedom to go to the limit, and that in the idyllic panorama of the Styrian Alps. In addition, there are many opportunities for overtaking.
Peter Mücke, Team Principal Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport, is conciliatory about the race weekend: Of course we were a bit disappointed in the first race. In the second race we just missed 8th place. What’s most important for me is that the space drive system always worked accurately. We had tough conditions here. The forces acting on the Red Bull Ring are considerably higher because there is a lot of grip. The temperatures were also such that you could get to the limit and that’s the main job for now anyway. But of course we also want points.”
Maximilian Buhk describes the weekend as difficult: “Especially in the second race, however, we were well in it and closer. In the first race it was a shame, of course, the five-second penalty and thus losing the points is simply annoying. On Sunday, fortunately, we remained penalty-free. Unfortunately, due to the damage to the suspension, I was no longer able to keep up with the group, otherwise I could have profited a bit more from the penalties of the others. The Space Drive steering has now reached a point where you can hardly feel what steering you have in the car. You just get in and drive because it’s already really close.
Maximilian Buhk is now 15th in the drivers’ standings with 11 points, while Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport is also 11th in the team standings with 11 points. Mercedes-AMG continues to lead the manufacturers’ standings with a commanding 358 points, followed by Audi with 255 points.
Source. Mücke Motorsport/Photo. GruppeC Photography