Mercedes-Benz gave five Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) rookies a test chance in Jerez de la Frontera this week, with Felix Rosenqvist, Esteban Ocon, Lucas Auer, Maximilian Götz and Charles Pic all testing one of the marque’s cars in Spain.
Three of the drivers – Ocon, Auer and Rosenqvist – were given the test chance for their performances in Formula 3 racing with Mercedes engines, where they finished as champion, fourth and eighth in the 2014 European Formula 3 Championship.
Also in action were Götz – who has previously tested a Mercedes DTM car – and Pic, who raced in Formula One for Marussia and Caterham in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Ocon, who won nine races on his way to this year’s European F3 title, admits that he found it challenging to adapt to the tin top car.
“I enjoyed it and had no problems,” said Ocon, 18. “The team did a great job. Adapting to the car is quite difficult. You can’t see much out of it when compared to a single-seater. It was my first time out in a racing car with a roof, so I’m quite happy with my progress during the course of the morning and hope to take it out again one day soon.”
Auer, 20, explains that he felt at ease in the AMG C-Coupé, being able to consistently improve throughout the test.
“It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot,” said the Austrian. “I immediately felt at ease in the car and was able to steadily improve during my runs. The DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé is a super racing car. It has a lot of grip and speed – I found it a terrific experience.”
In contrast, Rosenqvist says he found it difficult to adapt to the car in the three-day test. “The day started for me with my first experience of driving the new DTM car,” said the 23 year-old Swede. “I drove the old model last year, but it was a little bit more difficult than I thought to adapt to the new car and find the right style of driving. However, something had really clicked inside me by the end of the day, and I was quick. You always want to have more driving time, but ultimately, I felt quite good and competitive.
“It was really nice to get the opportunity to do this test after a Formula 3 season which I found quite tough, but after my result in Macau a few weeks ago, HWA decided to make this test possible and I’m really thankful. We go back a long way, so it’s nice to now do something together. It was great fun.”
For Pic, it was also his first test of a DTM car. “I really liked my first day in a DTM car,” said the 24-year-old Frenchman. “This was my first time out in a racing car with a roof here in Jerez de la Frontera, so there was a lot to learn. I found visibility a bit unfamiliar to begin with on my initial laps, and the feeling when braking was very different to what I’m used, but it was a lot of fun.”
Götz, along with Rosenqvist, previously tested a DTM car for Mercedes and the 28-year-old German hopes he set a good impression during the test.
“I was very pleased to be invited [to test],” said GT3 racer Götz. “Being allowed to drive the car during the closed season was really great. I’ve always dreamed of one day testing the new DTM car.
“It was very enjoyable taking it for a spin in the pleasant temperatures we’ve had here in Jerez. I’ve completed quite a few laps and was able to experiment with some of the settings on the car. I hope that I gave a good account of myself.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff emphasised the importance of developing youth talent to the manufacturer, drawing reference to the recent success of youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the DTM.
“It was wonderful to see so many young and talented racing drivers gaining experience in our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé,” said Wolff. “Charles, Esteban Felix, Lucas and Maximilian did a good job.
“The brand with the three pointed star has for decades enjoyed great success in bringing on young drivers in motor racing, and during that time, many of them have successfully moved up into Formula 1 or to the DTM.
“Pascal Wehrlein is the most recent example of what I’m talking about. He won his first DTM race this year and was also named as official reserve driver to our Silver Arrows Formula 1 team, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS.”