Home soil beckons for Suffolk-based driver Gary Paffett, who looks ahead to repeat his dominance at Brands Hatch, where he dominated from lights out to chequered flag this time last year. These V8-powered beasts, which only share the same skin as their road-going siblings, will complete a lap of the 1.929km Indy circuit in approximately 42 seconds or less, depending on the skill of the driver and the set-up characteristics of their weapon of choice.
The cars will hit a top speed of 225km/h, as the cars roar into Paddock Hill Bend, with the bravest braking at the last possible moment possible to force their way ahead. Both Jenson Button and Paul Di Resta, who won the DTM title with Mercedes-Benz in 2010, before moving on to Formula One with Sahara Force India, will be in attendance this coming weekend, as they will both give some lucky fans the ride of their lives in the DTM racing taxi, as well as signing autographs for the crowds that are set to descend on the Kent circuit.
Paffett said that last year’s victory was one of the best of his DTM career, especially when he was presented the winner’s trophy by the 2009 F1 World Champion and fellow Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team mate at the podium celebrations, as well as loving the track itself with its unique characteristics: “Maybe it’s a good omen that my lucky charm Jenson is our guest again at Brands Hatch this weekend. The track itself is a lot of fun and yet at the same time can be a real challenge for drivers. Paddock Hill Bend is one of the best turns that you could ever hope to encounter in a racing car – it’s just incredible.
“The characteristics of the track are very different as compared to the season-opener at Hockenheim, and I wonder how the new option tyres will shape up under these circumstances and how they will affect the course of the race. I was on the front row of the grid each time in the last two races at Brands Hatch, so hopefully, I can build on that success again this year and fight for victory once more.”
Christian Vietoris, who secured third place last time out at Hockenheim a fortnight ago, is confidently looking forward to the challenges that Brands Hatch provides, due to the tight and uncompromising layout of the track, with any small error being punished severely: “This is especially true in qualifying, and last season, only 0.081 seconds separated the top five drivers in Q3. Both myself and Martin Tomczyk in fourth and fifth place posted the same time – 41.101 seconds. I achieved my lap time first and consequently progressed further in qualifying to secure second place, my best position on the grid in the DTM. After a good start to the season with my maiden DTM podium at Hockenheim, I’m feeling twice as confident in the run-up to Brands Hatch.”
The new additions to the line-up for Stuttgart, Pascal Wehrlein and Daniel Juncadella, showed impressive form on their debut last time out, with both drivers having had experience of the Kent circuit, thanks to the F3 Euroseries last season Both are hopeful of being able to use that knowledge and apply it in the DTM as Juncadella explained: “The Indy circuit at Brands Hatch may be short but it’s truly awesome. I’ve always been quick at Brands Hatch in the past. I achieved two pole positions there last year in Formula 3. The DTM is, of course, an entirely different class, but maybe Lady Luck will smile on me in my first race in a car with a roof at Brands Hatch.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, said that the new regulations have brought about some much needed excitement and entertainment to the DTM, which looks set to be the case from now on. He is hopeful that the new line-up carries on its strong performance: “Our ‘young guns’ in the Mercedes-Benz DTM Junior Team made a fabulous impression at the season-opener in Hockenheim, and that is precisely why we are putting our trust in them this season. I envisage that all five of our Mercedes-Juniors will again produce strong performances at Brands Hatch.”
Now it is all a matter of waiting until the drivers get on track, and we find out just who can make the best of it here on British soil, as it looks to be close-quarter battling on track, with every mistake never going unpunished if the boundaries are pushed…