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Testing incident curtails Mercedes running at Vallelunga

Initial pre-season testing for Mercedes-AMG DTM came to an abrupt halt, as a result of a loss of control from Lucas Auer on Saturday morning (March 3rd), causing the Austrian to hit the barriers after just 14 laps of the 4.085-km Vallelunga circuit.

This was following the deteriorating weather conditions that saw the Italian circuit hit by snow on Thursday, when all three brands carried out their rollout phases.

Auer was apologetic about his off-track excursion, which prevented returning 2015 DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein from getting into the new 2018 C63 Coupé DTM that afternoon.

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“It was super cool to be in a DTM car again,” said the 23-year-old, who was one of the title protagonists last year for the majority of the season.

“Unfortunately, it was only for a very short time, because I made a mistake and crashed the car. I apologize to the team and especially to Pascal. But now I’m looking ahead and feeling excited about the next test.”

But lead driver Gary Paffett was able to get some solid running around the Italian circuit on Friday, setting the best time of the day with a 1:26.751 out of the 119 laps he completed.

The Briton admitted that he felt no major difference in the handling of the 2018 car, and also stated that he was glad to have dry running.

“This year, there have been some big changes to the aerodynamic parts of the car, and there are also more standard parts,” said Paffett, who hopes that the changes made will make it more level, in terms of competition.

“It has a little less downforce, but it is still a DTM car. We have very limited time for testing this winter, so it’s important that we get the maximum out of what’s available, like we did yesterday.”

Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Ulrich Fritz felt that the planned testing schedule the Stuttgart brand had in place was running like clockwork, until Auer’s collision with the barrier stopped proceedings.

“Despite the challenging weather conditions, we had been having a useful test session until Lucas skidded off the track. Unfortunately, we are missing half of a test day now. Pascal’s comeback will, therefore, have to wait until the test in Hockenheim. But that’s the way it is.”

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