After two rounds of the 2016 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) campaign, Mercedes-AMG DTM’s Gary Paffett heads into this weekend’s event at the Lausitzring 14th in the drivers’ standings, after what he considers to have been “an up and down first couple of weekends.”
The Brit, who is now in his 13th season in the DTM, took tenth place in the first free practice session on Friday afternoon, which saw Austria’s Lucas Auer set the initial pace with a impressive lap in Brandenburg.
Paffett spoke with TouringCars.Net after the first bout of action, admitting that this season has been difficult to interpret, especially with the new C63’s introduction at testing.
“After the new shape C63 was introduced for this year, the numbers initially were pretty bad, pretty poor and we were struggling,” said the Team ART driver.
“When we got to testing, it wasn’t easy as we had to balance the new car around the body and it was hard work. Going to Hockenheim, I wouldn’t say that we were overtly confident, but it was incredible and much better than we expected.”
He went on to explain that the results that the Stuttgart brand had at the Hockenheim season opener was “a little bit of a shock in a positive way,” which gave the team optimism ahead of the last round at Spielberg.
“There, we were expecting to have a similar performance, as with our track record there. We were expecting to be strong, and we really did struggle a lot.”
Paffett also said that there has been plenty of head-scratching at Mercedes over the past ten days, in respect of unlocking the true performance of the car, which has been somewhat restricted from a technical perspective.
“The difficulty is to pick the bones out of the performance and find out where the problem is. The circuit had recently been resurfaced in Austria, so whether that had something to do with it, was it a tyre issue or a balance issue?
“We’ve been trying to work out where the issue is, and if it was a one-off, that’s what it was, or whether we can expect a similar thing at Lausitzring.”
He also explained that despite Mercedes having the lightest base weight of all three manufacturers this weekend, it didn’t see the Stuttgart brand to be completely dominant with Auer’s blistering pace at the tail end of the session.
“It’s still difficult to know where we are going to be at the weekend, but now we’ve done FP1, it’s ok. It’s just been a case of understanding where the problems was, and move forward from there.”