by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

DTM Lausitzring 2013: Complete Report - Gary Paffett brings Mercedes-Benz to top with his sensational win

I. Preview

Following the excursion to the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria, the DTM returns to Germany for the fourth round of the 2013 season at the Lausitzring.

The track: The Lausitzring is situated in the heart of the former lignite coal mining area between Berlin and Dresden. The circuit is 3,478 metres in length and is run in an anti-clockwise direction. In addition to an unusually long straight, it is characterised by a technically demanding infield with many slow corners and chicanes. The race is held over 52 laps corresponding to a total distance of 180.865 kilometres, which makes it the second shortest of the season. The only venue that stages a shorter race is the Nürburgring with a total distance of 177.821 kilometres.

Great reception from fans: Mercedes Junior Team member Pascal Wehrlein contested the third race of the DTM season at Spielberg in a car sporting an unusual design – the colours of Stuttgart football club. The VfB Mercedes AMG C-Coupé proved so popular with fans on its debut at the Red Bull Ring that Wehrlein will also be competing at the Lausitzring in red-and-white livery. Mercedes-Benz has close ties with VfB Stuttgart: Mercedes-Benz Bank is the main sponsor of the German side and Mercedes-Benz the exclusive automobile partner of VfB Stuttgart.

Behind the scenes: On the Friday evening leading into the Lausitzring weekend, Mercedes-Benz will be welcoming 50 fans to its hospitality unit in the paddock. The fans will have the opportunity to meet the Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers in person. And of course, refreshments will also be provided. Information about the Mercedes-Benz ‘Fantreff’ (Meet & Greet) can be found on the official website at and on .

Statements on the DTM race at the Lausitzring

Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- has finished in the points in all three races so far this year
- has had the best start to a season of his DTM career, scoring 25 points from three races

“The Lausitzring is one of my favourite tracks and I always enjoy driving there. When I was still in Formula 3, I frequently tested at the Lausitzring as a member of Peter Mücke’s team. There is one especially fast corner plus several slow ones where you have to brake hard and late. You need good traction when you accelerate and the right balance on the front axle at low speeds. We keep proving how good our car is under race conditions, but we need to raise our game in qualifying. If we can just start from further forward on the grid, we will then be in a position to compete for the race win. Over the race distance, our performance is really good. Our car is easy on the tyres, and our strategy has helped me move up the field on several occasions this season. Now it’s important to carry on improving our whole package.”

Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- winner of two DTM races at the Lausitzring (2005 and 2009)

“My season hasn’t got off to the start I would’ve liked, but the occasional run of results like this is part and parcel of racing. The encouraging news for us is that our race pace is good. If we can just qualify for the first couple of rows, we can then be contenders for the podium. The standard of competition in the DTM is immense, and every race weekend is ferociously contested. Once again at the Lausitzring, much will depend on how well we get the car set up in Saturday’s free practice session. I have already won twice at the Lausitzring, and last year I came second. The temperatures are usually quite high at this time of year, which makes it one of the toughest races of the season in terms of the physical demands it makes on us drivers. The track has a lot of twists and turns, and overtaking is a real challenge. In 2005 when I won the title, I was on Mattias Ekström’s tail for a full 44 laps of the Lausitzring, and last year, it was a similar story with Bruno Spengler. So I’m curious about the extent to which DRS will increase the chances of overtaking: from what we’ve seen so far, it should now be easier to launch a successful attack on the car in front.”

Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- was on his way to a points finish at the Lausitzring in only his second DTM race

“The Lausitzring is a beautiful track. Last season, it even counted as a sort of home race for me, because before I moved to Stuttgart this year, I was living in Berlin. My memories of my first Lausitzring race are somewhat mixed – with just a few laps to go, I was on course to score my first points in only my second DTM race. But then I had to retire with a mechanical failure, which was a huge disappointment for me. So you could say that I have some unfinished business at the Lausitzring, and I’d like to settle it this weekend – preferably with more than just a few points, of course. I have full confidence in HWA and in Mercedes-Benz, and I’m sure that we will be strong there. If I could make it into Q4 and get onto the podium, that would be a great way to compensate for what happened on this track last year.”

Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, VfB Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- finished in the points at Spielberg for the second race in succession
- claimed a winner’s trophy in the Formel ADAC series at the Lausitzring in 2011

“I already know the Lausitzring from my time in Formel ADAC and even won a race there. I’m satisfied with the way my rookie year has gone so far. I’ve scored points in two of my first three races, which is good of course, but we want to make even faster progress. The positive aspect is that my qualifying performance at Spielberg clearly improved by comparison with Brands Hatch. So I feel that I’ve got off to a good start. At the Lausitzring, I would now like to take the next step forward and finish in the points for the third race in succession. I’m very pleased that my VfB Mercedes AMG C-Coupé has had such a good reception from football fans and DTM fans alike. Going into my second race in the colours of VfB Stuttgart, though, I’d like to score more than just the one point for tenth place.”

Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- made his first podium appearance at the Lausitzring in the 2009 Formula 3 Euro Series

“The atmosphere at the Lausitzring is fantastic every time I go there. The huge grandstand overlooking the home straight is always packed and the fans cheer us on with great passion – that spurs us drivers on all the more. My target for the coming weekend is once again to get the best out of myself and out of my THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. It would be great if I could at least make it through to Q3 in qualifying and then be in with a chance of a Top Five finish in the race. The characteristics of the Lausitzring are quite different from the circuits we’ve raced on so far this season. You have to get a good setup for the many slow sections and chicanes, plus you have to get the exit from the last turn just right – only then will you get the opportunity to overtake the car in front at the end of the start-finish straight. Now that we have DRS, there should be some exciting duels and overtaking manoeuvres.”

Daniel Juncadella (22, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- drove his first DTM test at the Lausitzring

“I’m feeling quite upbeat about the fourth race weekend of the season at the Lausitzring. Not least because it’s a home race for our Berlin-based RSC Mücke Motorsport team and they know the place well from having tested there with a lot of different racing cars. I’ve never driven in an actual race at the Lausitzring myself, so I don’t know the track very well. But that’s all part of the learning process in my DTM rookie year. But in any case, I have very fond memories of my first DTM test which took place at the Lausitzring.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“The flooding in the catchment area around ​​the Lausitzring has caused serious damage, and at this stage, we don’t yet know what the extent of loss for the local population will be. In these difficult times, we want to join with the ITR and the other manufacturers contesting the DTM in making a small contribution within the framework of the race weekend to help the people of the region cope with the consequences of this natural catastrophe. The Lausitzring has traditionally been a good venue for Mercedes-Benz, a track on which we have taken many victories in the past. But as I have already emphasised several times, past glories count for very little in the present. We must roll up our sleeves and do everything we can to boost our competitiveness. Since the previous race at Spielberg, we have been carefully analysing the situation and working hard to ensure that our pace will be consistently fast at the Lausitzring, not just on Sunday but in Saturday’s qualifying as well. If we can manage to do that, I am convinced that our drivers have the talent and speed to build on past successes and to successfully challenge our rivals from Ingolstadt and Munich for victory. Unfortunately, I am not able to get to the Lausitzring this weekend. As usual, when I cannot attend in person, Wolfgang Schattling, Head of DTM Management, will represent me at the race.”

II. Maiden DTM pole position for Christian Vietoris and a first for a Mercedes Junior– Three Mercedes-Benz drivers in Top 4

Mercedes-Benz Junior Christian Vietoris (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) will be on pole in the fourth DTM race at the Lausitzring. Vietoris achieved the fastest time of 1:17.715 minutes in the fourth segment of qualifying. This will be his maiden pole in his 26th DTM race and represents the first achieved by a Mercedes-Benz Junior since the Junior Team was reintroduced last year. There are no fewer than three Mercedes-Benz drivers on the first two rows of the grid for Sunday’s race, with five qualifying in the Top Ten.

Vietoris will have team-mate Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:17.940 minutes) alongside him on the front row for the fourth race of the season. The Englishman posted the second-fastest time in Q1 plus the fastest laps in the second and third round. Indeed, his lap time of 1:17.463 minutes in Q3 was the fastest of the entire qualifying session. Canadian driver Robert Wickens (STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:18.133 minutes) became the third member of the Mercedes squad to make it through to the fourth and final segment of qualifying and will start Sunday’s race from P4 on the grid.

Spanish driver Roberto Merhi (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:18.335 minutes) will start the race at the Lausitzring from ninth position on the grid. Pascal Wehrlein (VfB Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) is once again lining up in the colours of VfB Stuttgart for the fourth DTM race of the season at the Lausitzring. The Mercedes Junior secured the eleventh best time of 1:18.225 minutes in Q2 and missed going through to Q3 by six thousandths of a second. He will be in tenth place on the grid after BMW driver Augusto Farfus was handed a penalty. Wehrlein’s team-mate Daniel Juncadella (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) finished in 15th place with a time of 1:18.502 minutes. He also moves up one position on the grid as a result of the penalty given to Farfus.

Looking ahead to the race: The fourth race of this DTM season starts on Sunday at 1:30pm (live on ARD television, from 1:15pm onwards). The race at the Lausitzring covers 52 laps and equates to a race distance of 180.856 kilometres, the second shortest of the entire season.

Statements after Qualifying

Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Pole Position, (1:17.715 minutes)
„We’ve had a difficult start to the season and have taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks. Today, we answered back in the most emphatic way possible with a strong team performance in qualifying. I personally tried to ratchet it up even further in Q4, and I managed to do that. When you look closely at the recent races, you’ll see that we have consistently been stronger on the Sunday than on the Saturday. Our objective was to get nearer the front of the grid here. Bearing in mind that we just drove with our normal setup, I am expecting us to be strong again tomorrow. Obviously, you never know how the race will develop, especially with the new option tyres, but I’m hoping that we can stay out in front and that I can secure my first ever DTM race win. It won’t be easy, but of course, everyone who starts from the front aims to stay there.“

Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Second, (1:17.940 minutes)
„My EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé was really strong today, and everything went as it should. I was definitely in line for pole until, unfortunately, I made a small mistake on Turn Four. That makes me feel bad, since the guys in the team did such a great job this weekend. We didn’t focus specifically on setting up the car for qualifying despite what the results may suggest. Our preparations always take the same course, that is, we always try to do our best. My car was improving in terms of performance even at the last race in Spielberg and a place among the Top 5 on the grid would have been possible but for the problems I encountered. Sometimes it takes a little time to get things sorted, but we’re certainly on the right track.“

Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Fourth, (1:18.133 minutes)
„Qualifying turned out very promising for our team. As for me, I pushed a little too hard on my lap and ran wide in the second sector. In the DTM, you just cannot make a mistake and then expect to still be out in front. Anyways, I'm fourth on the grid and the podium is not all that far away. Plus, my two team-mates Christian and Gary are of in front of me and they will fight fairly, so some points in the race should be possible.“

Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Ninth, (1:18.335 minutes)
„Our car was running so much better here than in the last two qualifying sessions at Brands Hatch and Spielberg. I’m very satisfied with our performance. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on my lap in Q3, which cost me the chance of progressing to the fourth round. In Q1 and Q2, my pace was really good, and I’m very happy with the way my THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé handled: it felt simply fantastic. Now I’m hoping to have strong pace on Sunday.“

Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, VfB Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 10th, (1:18.361 minutes)
„Obviously it’s annoying to have just missed out in eleventh on the third round of qualifying. But at least everyone can see how much we as a team have been able to improve our Saturday performance. I already know the Lausitzring from competing in other series, but I’ve had to make some adjustment to driving a DTM car here – it’s considerably different from racing in a formula car. What matters now is to realise our potential and to make good as many positions as possible in the race.“

Daniel Juncadella (22, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 14th, (1:18.502 minutes)
„I was hoping for more than 15th place today, but motor racing is a sport and not a tea dance. This championship is very competitive, and the slightest mistake or the smallest incident often has dire consequences. On my fast lap, for example, Timo Glock came out of the pits right in front of me going into the Turn 1, which was not exactly brilliant from my point of view, as you can imagine. But everything is still to play for in the race. The balance of my stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé is good and we have seen in the past few races that podiums are still possible even for drivers starting from P14 or 15 on the grid.“

Wolfgang Schattling, Head of DTM Management:
„Three drivers on the first two rows, and Christian Vietoris claiming the first ever pole position for one of our Mercedes Juniors: today, everything went just right, and I’m absolutely delighted that we have had such an excellent all-round result. Gerhard Ungar and our whole team have just completed two weeks of intense work. There are two factors that should be taken into account: we have tested extensively here at the Lausitzring, and the data we have compiled has come in very useful; secondly, the Lausitzring has traditionally been a circuit where Mercedes-Benz has performed well, and we have registered a considerable number of victories here. So the basic conditions were already there, and when you’re really on song, that’s when top results like this become achievable. The standard of competition in the DTM is extremely high. Today, we had what it took, but we need to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. One thing is certain: we are in for a thrilling race tomorrow.“

III. Gary Paffett wins at Lausitzring

Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) claims his first win of 2013 in the fourth race of the DTM season. Team-mate Christian Vietoris (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) finishes third to take the second podium in his DTM career. No fewer than five of the six Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers finish among the points in front of a huge Lausitzring crowd (65,000 through the gates over the weekend).

Paffett was in second position on the grid and took the lead from Vietoris just after the start. This was the 20th victory for Paffett in his DTM career, making him not only the best driver currently contesting the DTM, but also the third most successful DTM driver of all time. Only DTM record-breaking champion Bernd Schneider (43 wins, all with Mercedes-Benz) and Klaus Ludwig (36 wins, 22 with Mercedes-Benz) have won more races than Paffett.

Mercedes Junior Christian Vietoris started on pole position for the first time in his DTM career at the Lausitzring, finishing the race in third place. This is the second time this year that Vietoris has achieved a podium after his third place finish at the season-opener in Hockenheim. Canadian Robert Wickens (STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) took fourth place behind Vietoris. Daniel Juncadella (stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) in sixth place secured his best result to date in the DTM. Roberto Merhi (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) finished the fourth race in tenth position. Pascal Wehrlein (VfB Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) dropped down to P17 after problems with the front and rear suspension.

Overall standings: Gary Paffett is in third place with 47 points after his first win of the season. Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) and Bruno Spengler (BMW) lead with 59 points each. STIHL / AMG Mercedes are ranked second in the team standings with 67 points. Mercedes-Benz is second in the manufacturers' standings with 126 points.

The next race: The fifth race weekend of the DTM season will take place from 13th to 14th July 2013 at the Norisring in Nuremberg.

Statements after the Race

Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Winner
„My EURONICS Mercedes AMG C Coupé was simply brilliant to drive the whole weekend. After the Saturday session, a lot of commentators were assuming that we had set the car up specifically for qualifying, but even in race trim, we were very fast. It was a bit more difficult for us on the option tyres, but we were able to pull away from Mike Rockenfeller on the primes. After the disappointing start to the season, the team has really got stuck in over these last couple of weeks, and this victory is the perfect reward for all our hard work. It’s been a while since I last won a race. This one is all the more satisfying because it’s my twentieth in the DTM.“

Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Third place
„Of course, you want to win the race, starting from pole position, but we must keep the big picture in mind and from that point of view, I’ve had a good weekend. My first DTM pole position was a great experience and I secured a lot of points again today with my second podium and am now placed fourth in the championship standings. Gary got away the drop on me at the start and then I had to defend P2 against Jamie Green during the early laps. Gary was too far away after that, and I had to drive my own race. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel quite as much at ease on the option tires today as compared to the previous race but the car was excellent on the prime tyres. Five Mercedes-Benz drivers in the points shows that our team has definitely made progress, and so we can look optimistically to the future.“

Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Fourth place
„That was quite a difficult race for me today. I was forced to push very hard on the option tyres, which meant that they degraded faster than we had expected. I didn’t have a spare set of new tyres available for the final stint, so consequently Christian was able to get past me. That’s regrettable, but the main thing is that we scored some vital championship points today. As far as I am concerned, I’ll keep giving it all I’ve got in every race. If I manage to win, that’s great. But if I finish in second or fourth place, that’s also OK. I’ll just keep pushing.“

Daniel Juncadella (22, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Sixth place
„I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to my team. The car handled fantastically well today, and that gave me the necessary confidence to pull off some good overtaking manoeuvres. The team has put in some great work. Apart from the start, the race went well for me. To be honest, I was feeling a bit nervous ahead of the start. I was just a bit too far forward on the grid and had to reverse back into the correct position. When the lights changed to green, I was still in reverse gear, which is why I was a bit slow off the mark. But after that, the first lap went well, and on the option tyres, I was able to attack hard. Our performance in the race at Spielberg was already strong, and now I’m looking forward all the more to the Norisring weekend.“

Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): Tenth place
„My pace was good today, but unfortunately the option tyres weren’t giving me enough grip towards the end of the race, as I had worn them out trying to open up a gap on Adrien Tambay. We had thought that the option tyres would last longer, so we hadn’t counted on having to stop a second time half way through the race. If it hadn’t been for that, I might have finished in the Top Five or Top Six today. I hope we manage to get this problem sorted out in time for the Norisring. Of course, securing one point is nice, but I wanted to achieve a finish in the Top Five – maybe I’ll do it four weeks from now at the Norisring.“

Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 17th place
„It's good to know that we have a car capable of winning. For me, though, today's race was one to forget. I had several contacts with other drivers at the start and felt a strong impact to the rear near-side that must have caused some damage, since the car was no longer driveable after that. The axle had definitely been knocked out of alignment because my car kept pulling to the left on the straights and was simply impossible to keep on track, especially when taking right-hand turns. I hope that things go better for me at the Norisring, but today’s strong showing by the whole team makes me feel quite optimistic in that respect.“

Wolfgang Schattling, Head of DTM Management:
„What a great day for the team. Gary and our entire crew performed incredibly well. Five of our six drivers finished in the points today. When you look back at how we fared during the first three race weekends, then that is much better than might have been expected. Pascal Wehrlein also had a good chance of achieving a points-scoring finish today, but dropped down to P17 after problems with the suspensions, caused by contacts with various other competitors. The first three races of the season did not go as we would have liked, which makes today’s success all the sweeter. With 20 victories to his name, Gary is now the third most successful driver in DTM history and has also secured the 150th win for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM. We put five cars in the Top 10 and two on the podium – what more can you ask? I spoke with our Head of Motorsports Toto Wolff on the telephone after the race and he had a little joke with me, saying that he now intends to stay at home with his children for all the remaining DTM races, if that then brings us the results that we’ve achieved this Sunday here at the Lausitzring.“

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

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