The #18 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Maximilian Buhk achieves the first podium finish – 3rd place – with a steer-by-wire vehicle at the DTM season finale at the Norisring and thus writes racing history, a season finale made to measure after two times 67 laps!
The final minutes of the 2021 DTM season were as exciting as a thriller for Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport. In the final meters, the almost inconceivable happened – a podium finish in the DTM. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 #18, which does without any mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear and is equipped with the steer-by-wire technology Space Drive, not only scored points at the Norisring, but also clinched its first podium. Two points in the first race on Saturday and 15 points on Sunday gave the team a furious end to the season on the 2.3-kilometer street circuit on the banks of Nuremberg’s Dutzendteich pond.
Actually, the penultimate race day of the season had not started quite so optimally for Buhk and his team. Although the gap of just 0.5 seconds looks small at first glance, it was still only enough for 14th place on the grid in the very demanding DTM field – a difficult starting position. Maximilian Buhk made it through the first lap well after a turbulent start in which his company car suffered some damage and was also able to make up three positions. After an optimum pit stop at the end of the 15th lap, the 28-year-old returned to the race in 17th position and was able to make up further ground as the race progressed, ultimately bringing home two important points for himself and the team in 9th place.
But that was just the beginning: For the DTM season finale on Sunday, Maximilian Buhk started the race from a solid 10th place on the grid. In the again somewhat overheated starting phase, the Hamburg driver was able to avoid the inside of the first corner and quickly make up two places. As the race progressed, the #18 held steady in eighth place. After a flawless mandatory pit stop, which was completed relatively late by the Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport team on lap 39, Buhk was able to get back in front of his persistent pursuer. When the leading field closed up again in the final phase of the race, the Northern German acted skilfully and avoided two collisions in the field and was still able to overtake two competitors on the penultimate lap. As the driver in front of him still received five penalty seconds on his overall time due to a mistake during the pit stop, Maximilian Buhk ultimately moved up to third place and secured the first ever DTM podium finish for a steer-by-wire vehicle in the history of motor racing for his team and Schaeffler Paravan, which this season has developed the innovative Space Drive steering system – originating from mobility for the disabled and a key technology for autonomous driving.
Looking back, Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport can look back on a successful season, with some ups and downs. Already at the first race in Monza, however, the team managed a perfect start with 6th place. For Maximilian Buhk it was his first DTM race and for Mücke Motorsport a successful comeback after 5 years of DTM abstinence, with a very special car and a forward-looking project. The development of Space Drive was taken to a completely new level of development by the Schaeffler Paravan engineers with their step into the highly competitive field of the DTM. Since 2019, the Space Drive system has been approved by the DMSB and is being tested and further developed in the tough field of motorsport. It has been a fixed component of the DTM regulations since 2021.
Peter Mücke Team Principal Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motosport: “This was a worthy end of the season for us and the project: Two times in the points and in today’s race up to the podium. This is a super recognition for everything we have done the whole year. We have now driven the last development stage with the steering. We are happy if it goes continuously upwards. Thanks to Schaeffler Paravan for the trusting cooperation and for going this way with us. We collected a lot of data and gained a lot of knowledge about the system and the car. If you work on it consistently from event to event, you can achieve top results like this. This confirms us in our work.”
Maximilian Buhk: “The Norisring is not easy. In the beginning I struggled to find the optimum line. We were able to improve very well over the weekend. To finish in third place is fantastic. Everyone deserves that, the team and Schaeffler Paravan, because there are many technicians and engineers in the background working on the steering and Team Mücke, who put their heart and soul into their work. We have been working our way up steadily since Monza, have had a couple of highlights and could also have scored more points. You can see the development over the year. We’ve learned a lot with the steering and I have a direct comparison with the conventional steering and the space drive steering and I just sit in and I don’t have to think about it. It feels very similar. This DTM season has been a very special one in my career.”
Source. Mücke Motorsport/Photo. GruppeC Photography