Christian Vietoris finished fifth in Mercedes-Benz’s brand new C-Coupé in the DTM race at Zandvoort, ending the race as the top driver for the manufacturer.
Vietoris had struggled with the new car throughout Saturday, qualifying in only 18th position, which became 17th after Audi’s Edoardo Mortara was sent to the back of the grid.
The German had openly said before the race weekend not to expect much from the new car, with Mercedes’ repeatedly insisting that the Zandvoort circuit would be unlikely to suit the characteristics which favour the C-Coupé.
However a strong drive on Sunday, combined with being in the right place at the right time during the four safety car periods, meant Vietoris finished the race in fifth as the best-placed driver for Mercedes.
“First of all, I have to say a big thank you to my team,” said Vietoris. “They have worked incredibly hard this week to get the car ready in time for the race weekend. That was a superb achievement.
“I’m really pleased that we have scored points today and that we’re still in with a chance of finishing the season in second place. P5 is a decent result after starting from 18th on the grid. We certainly weren’t counting on this going into the race.”
A late race charge saw Vietoris pass team-mate Pascal Wehrlein in the closing laps, before pressuring Mortara for fourth. Indeed Vietoris was not even inside the top ten with only ten laps remaining in the race.
“Tailing Edoardo Mortara on the final couple of laps, I had more to lose than to gain,” admitted Vietoris, who remains in contention for second in the championship just 12 points behind Mattias Ekström. “For that reason, I decided to bank the points for a fifth-place finish and to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.”
Mercedes’ Wolfgang Schattling says that despite the promising result for Mercedes’ new car, the results were not what they had hoped for this weekend.
“We knew from the start that a tough weekend was in prospect here in Zandvoort,” admitted Schattling. “It sounds good initially, bringing home three DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés in the Top Ten, but unfortunately, they didn’t finish where we wanted them to.
“We had hoped for a better result after Pascal’s strong showing in qualifying. Unfortunately, we couldn’t pull it off in the race. Pascal was unlucky with the safety car periods but drove a good race.
“Christian produced a marvellous performance after starting from P18 on the grid. The right tyre strategy enabled him to move up the field to P5. In the end, though, he decided not to take any risks.
“We’re off now to our home fixture in Hockenheim with renewed vigour, where we intend to draw a satisfactory close to the season.”