In the sixth event of the 2021 DTM season, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD secured the third win for Mercedes-AMG this year. Driving the car with starting number 22, Lucas Auer (AUT) achieved a commanding lights-to-flag victory at TT-Circuit Assen on Sunday. In the action-packed first race on Saturday, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT’s Maximilian Götz (GER) scored valuable championship points by finishing fourth. In the manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG extended its lead and is in front with a comfortable points’ margin.
This weekend, the international race series was in action at the TT-Circuit Assen. In first qualifying, Maximilian Götz (#4) and Philip Ellis (SUI/#57) in particular were among those who coped best with the track’s fast and medium-speed corners: with fourth and fifth place on the grid, they were close to the front. The further five Mercedes-AMG GT3s ended up in ninth, eleventh, twelfth, 13th and 15th place, all hoping to make up ground after the start with corresponding race tactics.
For Vincent Abril (MCO/#5), Daniel Juncadella (ESP/#8) and Arjun Maini (IND/#36), however, the race was already over before it had really started: when the light switched to green, the front runners were a bit slow in accelerating. That led to numerous collisions in the midfield. In the process, several Mercedes-AMG GT3s were damaged and were unable to continue.
After the subsequent safety car intervention, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT’s Götz and Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD’s Ellis held their positions in the first third of the field. Both drivers decided to come in for their mandatory pit stop on lap seven already. Especially for Götz, this strategy initially paid off: after a quick and faultless tyre change, the 35-year-old slotted in right in front of his direct championship rival and led the field, corrected for pit stops, for several laps. On lap 15, the safety car was deployed once again and the field followed closely behind. Subsequently, the numerous spectators got to see an exciting race with multiple position changes.
After 35 laps, Maximilian Götz crossed the finish line in fourth place and secured valuable points for his championship tally. Philip Ellis with starting number 57 finished in seventh place. Lucas Auer, driving for Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD, who held his ground in the frenetic action further down, came home in tenth place and also scored points as a result.
Race 2: lights to flag win for Auer and Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD
It was also Auer who kept cool in the hectic closing stages of second qualifying. After a red flag shortly before the end of the session on Sunday morning, there were only a few minutes remaining to secure the best possible starting grid positions. With his final lap, Auer claimed the pole position at the 4.555 kilometres long track in The Netherlands. With Götz (P7), Juncadella (P8), Abril (P9) and Ellis (P10), four further Mercedes-AMG drivers followed in the top ten of the starting grid.
Pole sitter Auer got his race off to an excellent start on Sunday afternoon and was already able to build up a margin of a few seconds during the first laps. After five laps, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD called him into the pits for a tyre change. Auer returned to the track as the virtual leader and held onto the lead until the end. Attacks by his approaching rivals also left the 27-year-old completely unfazed and he went on to score the sixth DTM race win of his career.
Just before the end of the race, bad luck struck for Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing’s Daniel Juncadella: the Spaniard, who had worked his way up to third place by virtue of a good pit stop and a courageous performance, retired on lap 34 due to a puncture. Maximilian Götz, who moved up one place during the race, added further valuable points in the battle for the title with his sixth-place finish. In the overall standings, Götz is in fourth place, only five points down on third place and 20 points down on the leader. In the manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG remains in first place with a considerable advantage.
There are four races remaining in this year’s DTM season. From 1-3 October, the series is racing at Hockenheimring with the final races following at the Norisring one week later.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “It was a weekend full of action for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport with some highs and lows. Unfortunately, we had some retirements to report in race one that weren’t our fault, but we were still able to collect valuable points for the championship classifications. Congratulations to Lucas Auer and Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD for the commanding lights-to-flag win on Sunday. The races in Assen have sown how close and well-balanced the series is. We are looking forward to the final four races of the season, we want to seal the manufacturers’ title and also remain in contention for the drivers’ title.”
Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD (#22): “It was a perfect Sunday with pole position and victory. My start of the race was very good, that was very important for our strategy. At the end, my rivals were getting closer again, but it was still enough for victory. Of course, I am very happy with the success.”
Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT (#4): “Unfortunately, we were slightly lacking pace this weekend to get further up. And in dense traffic, making up positions in Assen is very difficult. We still scored some points for the championship. In the battle for the title, nothing has been decided yet. Next up are the races at Hockenheim, a track that I like very much. I am looking forward to an exciting season finale and I will be doing everything to remain in contention for the championship.”