In what is their 350th start as a works outfit in the DTM since 1998, Mercedes-Benz are looking forward to what seems to be a difficult task ahead, with Audi dominating today’s qualifying at Zandvoort quite convincingly. With the resurgence of other drivers in the series, including Bruno Spengler amongst others, it seems as if there are developments and adjustments to be made on all cars in all respects.
The Stuttgart manufacturer is the most successful of the three premium brands currently competing in the series, with 165 fastest laps, 111 Pole Positions and 168 victories, and look set to take advantage of what the weather may bring, as qualifying proved to be difficult at times for many of the drivers
Series leader Gary Paffett was satisfied with securing 8th place, with team-mate Jamie Green obtaining the highest grid placement for Mercedes, ending up 6th, even though his AMG C-Coupé ran wide through the gravel during his lap, but he feels confident about the race pace potential of the car.
Robert Wickens, who is finding some flashes of form during this season so far, especially last time out, found that it suddenly go the other way, as he was unable to repeat his Qualifying performance, going out in Q2. But the young Canadian seems hopeful of a good performance: “In not one sector did I manage to get the maximum out of the car, but twelfth on the grid is still a decent starting position for me.“
Fellow rookie, Spain’s Roberto Merhi, was happy with the way his car was handling, but was unable to take advantage of its full potential on his final lap, ending up 14th, followed by ex-F1 veteran, Ralf Schumacher, who suffered that misfortunate pit stop incident on Friday, with the German looking to put all efforts into making his way through the field tomorrow: “The times in qualifying were very close. I missed progressing to Q3 in the end by only two tenths. We will now have to analyze why, and then put everything into the race. It won’t be easy, but all is not yet lost.“
Another former F1 driver, David Coulthard, had the intention of doing well in Qualifying, but nothing seemed to be going right for the Scotsman, as he starts in 22nd place tomorrow, and is all too aware of the dangers when the lights go out: “Qualifying did not go brilliantly today. I had intended doing better. But now, I’ll just have to do my best tomorrow to make the most of my P22. It’s going to be a tough race and vitally important to emerge unscathed from the first turn.“
Suzie Wolff also found the going at Zandvoort tough, and had been hoping for a better result this time out, but found herself out in Q1, ending up 19th: “My team did a great job and the car did not feel too bad. Now I’ll attack in the race to improve my position as much as possible.“
Norbert Haug also congratulated Audi on their impressive Qualifying results this time out, but was optimistic of the potential that the AMG C-Coupé has when it comes to racing, but said that the way the grid is looking, it may not be the ideal situation to fight back form, but is looking to hopefully break up the stranglehold Audi has at the top end of the grid.
So with it being 5 Audis at the front, and the weather looking as changeable as ever, Mercedes could surprise a lot of people both on and off track, if events at Zandvoort go in their favour when racing starts.