by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

DTM Valencia 2012: Complete 3-Day Report

I. DTM Valencia 2012: Preview

• The DTM visits Spain for the seventh time since 2006: two races have been staged in Valencia, the previous four events were hosted at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona (2006 - 2009)

• Mercedes-Benz junior team member Roberto Merhi is looking forward to his home race in Valencia

• Gary Paffett goes into the last two race weekends of the season – Valencia and Hockenheim (19th -21st October) – with an eleven point championship lead

• The DTM teams did their pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo; the 4,005-metre track is also used for Formula 1 testing; the race is run over 46 laps, which equates to a total distance of 184.230 kilometres; the pit stop window is between laps 12 and 35

Comments prior to the ninth race of the season at Valencia:

Gary Paffett (31, England, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
- has led the drivers’ championship since the season opener at Hockenheim
- has scored points in all eight races so far in 2012
- is the only driver to have qualified in the Top Four on five race weekends

“I’ve done a lot of laps in Valencia, both in a DTM Mercedes and in a Formula 1 McLaren Mercedes. It’s very different from other circuits on the calendar, and it can be quite tricky to get the set-up of the car right. There are a lot of slow corners, which means that traction plays a major role and that tyre wear is generally quite high. Valencia is a difficult track, but my THOMAS SABO AMG Mercedes C-Coupé has been very fast at all circuits so far this season – my goal in Valencia is to secure as many points as possible so that I am at the top of the championship table as we travel to the finale in Hockenheim.”

Jamie Green (30, England, Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
- is currently third in the championship on 108 points
- won the 2007 DTM race in Barcelona

“This will be the third time since 2010 that a DTM race has been staged in Valencia. The Circuit Ricardo Tormo has recently been resurfaced. In the past, the surface at Valencia was extremely temperature dependent, which made it important to time your lap so that you were out on track when it was at its fastest. I’m curious to see how the new tarmac behaves and whether the scenario has since changed.”

Christian Vietoris (23, Germany, Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé):
- had two Formula 3 Euro Series podium finishes at Barcelona in 2008
- won the 2006 Formula BMW World Final in Valencia

“The Circuit Ricardo Tormo is exceptionally challenging; it’s especially tough on the brakes and, similar to the last race at Oschersleben, it’s critically important to ride the kerbs properly. Compared with Oschersleben, though, Valencia flows more smoothly. We did some testing there at the beginning of the year and collected a lot of useful data for our new DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, which should be a great help initially this weekend in achieving the right set-up.”

David Coulthard (41, Scotland, DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
- qualified third for last year’s race in Valencia
- is familiar with the permanent track in Valencia from countless Formula 1 test sessions

“As we go into the penultimate race of the season in Valencia, we can look forward to a fascinating city and to a technically challenging track. I know the Ricardo Tormo Circuit from all the laps I put in during testing when I was in Formula 1, but my first two DTM races there required a total recalibration on my part. In a DTM car, you take a completely different racing line to the one you would drive in a single-seater – that was something I had to learn. By qualifying third for last year’s race, I at least showed that I’m making progress. After three tough races recently, I would like to secure a decent result for the fans.”

Ralf Schumacher (37, Germany, Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
- has already completed numerous test laps at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo during his Formula 1 career

“Valencia is a destination I have been familiar with for many years now. During my racing career, I’ve been a frequent visitor to the city and to the race track in the context of Formula 1 and DTM; I’ve come to know them well and enjoy them. The Ricardo Tormo circuit provides a nice mix of different-speed corners and is especially tough on brakes. The DTM season is entering its crucial phase in Valencia and, of course, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for Gary and Jamie in the championship. One thing is clear – the fans can look forward to a close-fought and exciting three-way battle for the title in the last two races here in Valencia and at Hockenheim.”

Roberto Merhi (21, Spain, Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):
- not only set his first DTM fastest race lap at Oschersleben but also established a new track record
- won the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series title ahead of time in his home race

“My first home race in the DTM is certainly a very special experience for me. I can hardly believe that a whole year has gone by – and almost a full DTM season – since winning the Formula 3 Euro Series title here in Valencia. On that very same weekend, I got behind the wheel of a DTM car for the first time and: I was taking VIPs round the track instead of racing, and I still have great memories of the occasion. Since then, there have been some major developments in my career and I’ve really learnt a lot – I showed that by posting my first fastest lap in the DTM and by setting a new lap record at Oschersleben. This taste of success gives me the extra motivation to achieve another good result in front of my family, friends and fans in Valencia.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Two races in 22 days will decide the outcome of the 2012 DTM championship. Next weekend, Valencia in Spain plays host to the DTM – not on the street circuit used by Formula 1 but on the permanent track outside the city. It is an exceptionally challenging venue – the circuit itself has been completely resurfaced this year, which means that we are all starting from scratch here. Finding the optimum set-up will be a big challenge for the teams and drivers.

“Everyone in our team is looking forward to the race. Our drivers Gary Paffett, who has led the championship since the opening round, and Jamie Green are two of the remaining three title contenders. Our aim is to defend our lead.”

II. DTM Valencia 2012: Qualifying - Championship leader Gary Paffett has to line-up on row eight of grid for race

On Sunday, DTM championship leader Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) will be in P16 on the grid for the ninth DTM race in Valencia (live at 1.45pm on ARD television). The British driver recorded a time of 1:27.288 minutes and will start the race four positions behind Bruno Spengler (BMW) who is placed second in the championship standings. Paffett has held the overall lead in the DTM without a break since the first race of the season at Hockenheim. He is eleven points up on Spengler. Augusto Farfus (BMW / 1:26.446) will be on pole in Sunday’s race.

Mercedes junior Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:27.128) secured 14th place on the grid in the second part of qualifying.

Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:27.377), Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:27.380), Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé / 1:27.454), Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:27.533), David Coulthard (DHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupe / 1:28.012) and Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:28.090) will be in positions 17 to 22 respectively on the grid at Valencia for the penultimate race of the season. The top sixteen drivers were separated by only eight tenths of a second in the first qualifying segment.

Comments on qualifying:

Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 14th (1:27.128):
„The qualifying session left me with mixed feelings. Of course, I'd love to be placed further up on the grid but I was today’s best Mercedes driver, which does not leave me overjoyed, considering my position. Nevertheless, I’m on an upward learning curve.“

Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 16th (1:27.288):
„16th on the grid is disappointing for me. Luckily, my championship rival, Bruno Spengler, did not have a good qualifying either. The car’s balance was good today both in practice and in qualifying. Unfortunately, the fresh tyres did not provide enough grip in qualifying. We’ll have to analyse the data this evening, but I am confident that our race pace will be stronger and that a good strategy will make it possible to move up the field tomorrow.“

Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 17th (1:27.377):
„I had intended doing more in my home race at Valencia. It’s a bit disappointing being in P17 on the grid, all my fans are going to be there. But I posted the fastest race lap last time out in Oschersleben, showing that our pace in race trim is good, and I will take that fact forward with me tomorrow.“

Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 18th (1:27.380):
„That was a tough qualifying for us. My place on the grid is not good, but we win and lose as a team. The car was not good enough today in qualifying, but it’s Sunday that counts, not Saturday. We will do everything possible tomorrow to push forwards.“

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé), 19th (1:27.454):
„The top sixteen were separated by only eight tenths in the first part of qualifying. The smallest problem can cost vital positions, given the highly competitive nature of the current field. My place on the grid is not terrific, but anything can happen in the race.“

Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 20th (1:27.533):
„I did not come to Valencia to be 20th on the grid, sorry, but that was not my intention. However, qualifying was again very close. I just missed progressing to Q2 by two-tenths of a second. In tomorrow’s race, it will be crucial to get a good start and stay well clear of any problems.“

David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 21st (1:28.012):
„Unfortunately, my qualifying did not go according to plan. Last year, I was in third place on the grid in Valencia but it was impossible to repeat that result today. Valencia is a challenging circuit that puts high demands on drivers and vehicles. Tomorrow is another day and we will do everything we can to get a better result.“

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 22nd (1:28.090):
„We knew that it would be tricky for us at this track. I hope that we can improve by tomorrow so that we can move up the field a few places in the race.“

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
„This is anything but an ideal grid position for our championship leader Gary Paffett. The right grip proved elusive today for all of our cars, but we will endeavour to improve setup for tomorrow’s race. The Good Lord knows that Gary is a true fighter and besides, he never gives up and neither do we.“

Qualifying: Top 10

Pos / Driver / Make / Time

1. Augusto Farfus / BMW / 1:26.466
2. Edoardo Mortara / Audi / 1:26.756
3. Filipe Albuquerque / Audi / 1:26.894
4. Adrien Tambay / Audi / 1:26.981
5. Mike Rockenfeller / Audi / 1:26.789
6. Andy Priaulx / BMW / 1:26.824
7. Timo Scheider / Audi / 1:26.849
8. Mattias Ekström / Audi / 1:26.936
9. Dirk Werner / BMW / 1:27.039
10. Miguel Molina / Audi / 1:27.040

III. DTM Valencia 2012: Race - Gary Paffett leads championship ahead of the DTM finale at Hockenheim – Jamie Green in third place still has a chance

In Valencia, Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) finished the ninth race of this DTM season in tenth position. David Coulthard (DHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) moved up the field ten positions from grid position 21 and ended the penultimate race in P11. The race was won by Augusto Farfus (BMW).

DTM championship leader Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) was forced to retire on lap 28. The British driver has led the DTM drivers' championship since the season opener at Hockenheim. The 2005 DTM champion is three points ahead of Bruno Spengler (BMW) in second place as the season finale at Hockenheim draws near (19th-21st October 2012). Green is in third place with 109 points overall. Team THOMAS SABO / Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG leads the team standings with 151 points.

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé), Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) finished the race in Valencia in positions twelve to 14 respectively. Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) both retired from the race at an early stage.

A total of 24,000 spectators in total came to watch the DTM in Valencia this weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun).

Race summary

The start: Robert Wickens moves up by one position at the start to P13. David Coulthard goes up six places and is in P14 after the first lap.
Lap 2: Roberto Merhi retires to the pits.
Lap 3: Robert Wickens is also out of the race after an accident.
Lap 4: Coulthard in P13, Gary Paffett is 15th and Jamie Green 16th
Lap 7: Drive-through penalty for Bruno Spengler (BMW), who drops down to 15th place behind Green.
Lap 9: Green overtakes Joey Hand (BMW) in a scrap for 13th place.
Lap 12: The pit stop window is now open. Green and Wolff come in for first pit stop.
Lap 13: First tyre change for Coulthard and Paffett, and the championship leader serves his two-second pit stop penalty.
Lap 14: Christian Vietoris makes his first pit stop.
Lap 15: Schumacher pits for the first time.
Lap 17: Drive-through penalty for Green.
Lap 18: Drive-through penalty for Schumacher.
Lap 20: Second mandatory pit stop for Green.
Lap 25: Second set of fresh tyres for Schumacher.
Lap 26: Final mandatory pit stop for Paffett.
Lap 27: Vietoris comes in for second change of tyres.
Lap 28: Paffett retires in the pits.
Lap 29: Schumacher overtakes Hand (BMW).
Final lap (Lap 46): Jamie Green came home in tenth position after 46 laps and a total race distance of 184.230 km.

Comments after the race:

Jamie Green (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Tenth:
„After starting from 18th on the grid and then being given a drive-through penalty which cost me 20 seconds, I was never going to finish higher than tenth today. The start was rather hectic – I tried to keep clear of all the trouble and to make sure that I came through the first couple of laps in one piece. I expect us to have far better pace at Hockenheim. I'm really looking forward to the season finale that I won last year and the crowds of fans both in the Motodrom and in the Mercedes grandstand.“

David Coulthard (DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Eleventh:
„Overall, we’ve had a difficult weekend in Valencia, but I’m well satisfied with my own race. I didn’t get off to the best of starts, but the confusion on the first lap worked to my advantage and I was able to move up the field by several positions. After that, I just focused on finishing the race as best I could.“

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé), Twelfth:
„P12 was not what where I had intended to finish in Valencia. I had a good start, but unfortunately, my car sustained damage immediately after that and I could not post any more fast lap times. I'm hoping for a better qualifying at the season finale in Hockenheim and a positive conclusion to the season.“

Susie Wolff (TV Spielfilm Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 13th:
“There’s always the danger of being involved in a collision at the start when you’re way down the grid. Luckily, I came through the initial laps without sustaining any real damage. I tried to push forwards, but it was impossible to do better than P13 from my position on the grid. We’re off to Hockenheim in three weeks’ time, and I'm really looking forward to being back in Germany and the fans there – I really want to put on a good show for them.“

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), 14th:
„As expected, our pace was better than in yesterday’s qualifying. Unfortunately, it was impossible to finish higher up the field than 14th from last position on the grid. We have already shown at Hockenheim this season that our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupe is really quick there and so I feel confident about the upcoming season finale three weeks hence.“

Gary Paffett (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), retired:
„Of course, I'm disappointed about not finishing, but we still lead the championship ahead of the finale in Hockenheim despite a very tough weekend for our team. I was next to Joey Hand at the start. He braked very early to let Bruno Spengler. We made contact, doing serious damage to my car. Now I’ll just have to quickly forget this weekend and look to the future. We proved with a one-two victory during the season opener that our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé is very quick at Hockenheim.“

Robert Wickens (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), retired:
„I had a good start and managed to gain a position. Unfortunately, I slid into the tire wall on the first turn and so my race was over – too bad. We intend putting on a good show for all our fans in the finale at Hockenheim, though, and aim to finish the season on a high note with some decent results.“

Roberto Merhi (Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), retired:
„Unfortunately, my race was over before it had properly begun and I had intended accomplishing so much here at my home race in Valencia. There was some contact with Martin Tomczyk at the start. I tried to avoid an accident but without success. My car was badly damaged as a result and so I was forced to retire, sadly.“

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
„Our performance has been far from perfect since Friday because we could not find a setup at this circuit that would allow the tyres to be in the correct operating window to give the necessary development in grip. Our C-Coupé was extremely competitive in all of the previous eight races and we expect that to be the case once again at the final race weekend in Hockenheim three weeks from now. Any one out of the three – Gary Paffett, Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green – can win the title and two of them are Mercedes drivers. Mercedes has won the last six races at Hockenheim and that fact should give us all a welcome boost.“

~ Official photos and reports courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH ~

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