Mercedes-Benz drivers are expecting to face a ‘different challenge’ this weekend at the Norisring, where the fourth round of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters takes place.
Thus far in 2014 only three Mercedes drivers have finished in the points, which occurred in the wet second race at Oschersleben. In both the season opener and the previous meeting at the Hungaroring no Mercedes drivers finished inside the top ten.
Gary Paffett, who is one of those drivers to have scored points, has won twice at the circuit, almost ten years ago in 2004 and 2005. The Brit admits that the 2.3 km, the shortest on the DTM calendar, presents a very different challenge to the circuits raced on so far this year.
“I’ve got some fond memories of the Norisring – I’ve won races there in both Formula 3 and in the DTM,” said Paffett. “I’m a real fan of street circuits and so every year, I look forward to the race at the Dutzendteich track.
“The Nuremberg circuit represents a completely different challenge compared to the regular race tracks that make up the bulk of the racing calendar. Its special track characteristics and fantastic atmosphere make this race one of the absolute highlights of the year.”
Canadian Robert Wickens, who is yet to score any points in 2014, echoed Paffett’s comments. The 25-year-old was the lead Mercedes driver in the 2013 race, finishing in second behind the subsequently excluded Mattias Ekström.
“We can expect to face different challenges here at the Norisring as compared to the previous three race tracks we’ve raced on so far this season,” explained Wickens. “Medium-fast and fast turns are the dominant features of the track layouts at Hockenheim, Oschersleben and Budapest. In Nuremberg, we’ll be racing on a street circuit that puts quite different demands on drivers and cars.
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff cautioned against expecting improvements in Mercedes pace this weekend, despite there having been a four-week break since the previous round in Hungary – the longest gap of the season so far.
“We’ve had four weeks since the last race in Budapest to analyse the season’s first three races in minute detail and to put further measures in place to improve our performance,” explained Wolff. “However, that does not happen overnight in the top echelons of motor racing, which is why we must continue to work hard to close the gap on our competitors so that we can live up to our expectations once again in the long term.”