Mercedes’ Maro Engel was a thankful man after taking his first Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters win at Moscow Raceway yesterday afternoon, admitting that he was ‘really over the moon’ after taking a risky strategy that involved a very early pit stop.
Engel was able to remain calm under building pressure, which was compounded in some way by Audi Sport’s Nico Müller, who ended up staying in front the Team SILBERFEIL Energy driver for the majority of the race.
“I didn’t think that Nico was going to be out so long, and I had hoped that he was going to pit a little bit earlier,” said Engel, who was able to fend off the advances of Mattias Ekström in the dying moments of the race.
The 31-year-old set his fastest lap of the race, trying to keep a gap between himself and the Swede, who retook the points lead from René Rast by just a point after the action in Russia.
“it was still frustrating to not be able to pass Müller. He had nothing to lose and I had everything to lose, and at that point, I couldn’t risk any contact either.
“Our strategy was based around the Safety Car, as we knew that if it was to come out, it would be the perfect strategy for us.”
The German also admitted that he was frustrated with his own performance on Sunday initially, having made a mistake in qualifying that saw him at the back of the grid alongside Tom Blomqvist, who was excluded post-qualifying.
“Yesterday was the first day that I had really been able to get used to this track, we had good race pace yesterday and a good car in qualifying.
“I made a mistake and we ended up at the back of the grid, so I definitely wasn’t expecting to win! So it’s obviously fantastic, but we knew that we had a strong car over the distance [of the race] and a good race car. Once the SC had come out, there was actually a chance that we could win this race.”
Engel’s best result in the DTM before his maiden win yesterday was sixth, back in 2009 in the season opener at Hockenheim with Mücke Motorsport.
“In the end, [I’m] really over the moon and thank you very, very much to the team. They worked so hard, and it’s not been an easy weekend for us and the guys, and they have put in some incredible hours.
“So thank you very much to the Mercedes-AMG team. We’ll celebrate this tonight.”