With the sixth round of the 2012 DTM championship soon to get underway at the “Green Hell” this coming Sunday, Mercedes-Benz are looking to increase their lead in all the three titles on offer to drivers, teams and constructors, with British drivers Gary Paffett and Jamie Green leading the way forward at the halfway point.
As with every race, there is a strategic element for fuel conservation and tyre stops, as the 3.63km Nürburgring track hold this coming weekend’s event, with the race being held over 49 laps. This will see just which manufacturer has made the most progress over the summer break. Paffett himself, won back in 2004, also having claimed pole position and fastest lap that weekend. He also realises that the Eifel itself does have its fair share of weather changes, but is hopeful that the Nürburgring track brings glory for him this time around, whilst looking back on events so far: “The first half of the season was nearly perfect from my perspective: two wins, two podiums and a P4 finish after starting from last on the grid. I’ll be delighted if the second half continues in the same vein.
“I’ve already won one DTM race at the Nürburgring, and in recent years, I’ve had some very good results on this challenging circuit. My victory in the 2004 season is quite a few years ago now, so I wouldn’t mind starting the second half of the season in the same way as the season opener at Hockenheim – with a win.”
Green, however, has had a distinct lack of results at the track itself, only having had one podium appearance throughout his DTM career, and hopes that the momentum from his win at the Norisring, where he picked up his 4th victory there, will help spearhead a charge for the second half of the season. But he also enjoys the challenge of the “Green Hell”, and looks forward to more success here: “The section before the back straight consists of some medium-fast downhill corners – that’s always a lot of fun. I’ve only made one podium appearance in a DTM race at the Nürburgring, so I’ll be delighted if I can repeat the experience this time round.”
Christian Vietoris, who drives the Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupe, has had success here at the Nürburgring, scoring pole positions in the F3 Euro Series in 2008 and 2009, which has seen drivers make their way up to the fastest Touring Car series around. Now in his second season with the Stuttgart manufacturer, he is looking forward to the atmosphere, as well as realising the efforts both he and his team need to make for becoming competitive: “My second DTM season has gone reasonably well so far, but I’m keen to improve my performance in the second half. If we sharpen up our act and if we can avoid driver, car and team error, we should be able to turn in some good results in the remaining races.
“I’m especially looking forward to the great atmosphere at the track and in particular to all the fans in the Mercedes grandstand who cheer us on, come rain or come shine.”
Former F1 veteran, David Coulthard, looks forward to this high-profile race, where he has scored pole positions at the respective European Grand Prix in 1995 and 2000, and looks to carry on the good run of form from his 5th place finish at the Norisring: “The circuit at the foot of the Nürburg with its ancient castle is world-famous. It is also extremely challenging, as it makes great demands on the brakes. I hope that I can carry on with another strong performance after doing so well in the last race at the Norisring. Fifth place was a great result, both for myself and for my team; it has given us an extra boost for the second half of the season.”
Ralf Schumacher, who considers this track to be his home race, as his home town of Kerpen is not far away, looks forward to challenging hard this weekend, as both he and Jamie Green won their team event at the Munich Show Event, with the German driver taking a nostalgic look at his F1 career: ”I have many fond memories of the Nürburgring, especially my Grand Prix victory in 2003 and my first DTM points in the 2008 season. In the DTM show event at the Munich Olympic stadium in mid-July, Jamie and I won the first ever DTM team competition. Although there were no points at stake, it still gives me added motivation for the Nürburgring race and for the second half of the season.”
Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Norbert Haug, explained that the DTM had been even more successful for 2012, with a 35% increase in spectators, as well as the 6th round at the Nürburgring being on the cusp of setting an attendance record in DTM history, which looks set to be the case, judging by the advance ticket sales rising sharply.
But Mercedes have not been resting on their laurels in any way, and realises what lies ahead, as Haug explains: “We are fully aware of the tremendous challenge that lies ahead – being ‘half- time champion’ is no guarantee of taking the title at full-time.
“On the contrary, we have all been working very hard and have carried out some extensive testing. Everyone in the team is pleased that the long summer break – probably a bit too long for the liking of the fans – is over and that we can go on the offensive again.”
So, it all comes down to the talking on track, as the “Three-Pointed Star” will look to continue its ongoing dominance of the season, but is all too aware of the fact that BMW and Audi may have something up their sleeves this weekend.