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Disappointed Mercedes off the pace

Photo by Daimler AGMercedes-Benz leave the Hockenheimring after the season opener for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters ‘disappointed’, after the marque failed to break into the top ten and achieved a best placing of 11th.

Mercedes endured its worst season opener in DTM history, with Pascal Wehrlein being the top performer for the three-pointed star down in 11th position.

The manufacturer’s woes became clear even in first practice, where six of the seven AMG C-Coupés propped up the timesheets. The situation barely improved in qualifying, with only Wehrlein and Gary Paffett making it into Q2 and five car still occupying the bottom five positions on the grid.

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“Unfortunately, the first race of the season was disappointing for us,” said Wolfgang Schattling, Mercedes’ Head of DTM Management. “Our team has worked hard over the winter and certainly deserved a better result today.”

Schattling admits that the team will work to improve their cars performance before the next event at Oschersleben, but with timescales short and few changes that can be made to the cars it will be a difficult ask.

“It’s obvious that our level of performance is not what it should be,” added Schattling. “We have to improve and continue to work hard. We now have a fortnight in which to considerably improve our performance before the next race in Oschersleben. That’s not much time and it won’t be an easy task. I am sure, though, that we will find a solution so that we can attack again very soon.”

Wehrlein, who is the youngest on the DTM grid at just 19, finished the race as the best driver for the marque in 11th.The German admits that despite a difficult start, his confidence grew as the race progressed.

“That was a disappointing start to the season, unfortunately,” said Wehrlein. “I did not have the necessary pace and I found the going very tough, especially just at the start of the race.

“The car’s balance changed dramatically during the race, and I felt pretty comfortable in the car in the end and was able to post faster lap times. It’s a shame, but there are no points for eleventh place.”

Canadian Robert Wickens explained that the car was strong on the option tyres, but did not perform later in the race when he switched to the harder compound.

“We started the race on option tyres, which enabled me to overtake a few cars,” explained Wickens, who finished in 18th. “After the mandatory tyre change, we no longer had the speed to finish among the points. I hope that we’ll be seeing a completely different Mercedes performance at Oschersleben.”

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