For the first time in the DTM’s 28-year history, the world’s most popular international touring car series is in Russia this weekend. 2012 DTM runner-up Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) finished in seventh position during the first DTM qualifying at the 2.555km Moscow Raceway, posting a lap time of 58.831 seconds. In total, four Mercedes-Benz drivers secured a top-10 grid position at the Russian premiere of the DTM.
Robert Wickens (STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) exited Q1 with a time of 59.285 seconds. He will be in 18th position on the grid in the first DTM race at the Moscow Raceway. His team-mate Roberto Merhi (THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 59.467 seconds) will be in P22.
Qualifying was stopped after Q3, because the rescue helicopter was refused permission to start due to the air space above the track being closed off. Mike Rockenfeller (Audi / 58.423 seconds) secured the first pole position at the Moscow Raceway, located about 80 kilometres north-west of the Russian capital Moscow.
Looking ahead to the race: The DTM premiere at the Moscow Raceway starts on Sunday at 1:30pm (from 1:15pm onwards, live on ARD television). The race will be staged over 74 laps and cover a total distance of 189.070km.
Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 7th): "I found qualifying quite tough today. The car didn't feel too bad, but I don't think we were able to squeeze all that we could out of it. But I still pushed really hard, and to be honest, there was nothing more doing today. However, I was the fastest Mercedes-Benz driver in qualifying, and tomorrow’s race is another story. The guys in front aren't too far away and with the option tyres and DRS, all things are possible tomorrow. I think it will be a long and tough race, but I'm optimistic."
Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 8th): "My first set of tyres did not feel great. We then made a small change and things were much better, enabling me to move up to P5 in Q1. I was again quick in Q2 and was placed third. However, the stewards thought that I had left the track with all four wheels on this lap.
That was not the case and I was pleased when the decision was reversed and I went through to Q3. However, I'd already got out of the car when the news came through. Then I had to quickly climb back in, but my concentration just went out of the window.
Being focused is paramount, especially in the DTM, when hundredths of a second are obviously quite crucial. But many things are still possible starting from eighth place tomorrow. DRS in particular will play an important role in Sunday’s race."
Daniel Juncadella (22, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 9th): "My qualifying was good. I was especially quick in Q2. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in Q3 at the first turn and my lap was scrubbed as a result. My last lap in Q3 was also voided, but I honestly don't see why. As far as I’m concerned, I did not leave the track.
But that's just the way it is. Of course, I was expecting more after my strong showing in Q2, but now I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. I'm always fast in the race. Hopefully, we can repeat the success of the Norisring and secure a place in the top five.“
Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 10th): "I knew straightaway after practice that qualifying wouldn't be easy. So, I don’t think my performance was too bad. I'm pleased to be in the Top Ten, as all things are still possible. Strategy can definitely make a difference on the track here in Moscow."
Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 18th): "My lap really felt good, but ultimately, I was just not fast enough. I had a few problems with my car’s balance, which was probably the reason for me not going through to Q2. Of course, I’m disappointed to exit Q1. I had intended not to let that happen to me this year. Tomorrow’s race will certainly be tough, but the differences in times are so infinitesimal and we have seen on many occasions already this season that nothing is impossible, given the right strategy.“
Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 22th): "My qualifying was really awful. I was doing well on my first lap but pushed it to the limit on the very last turn and drove over the track boundary. Unfortunately, I couldn’t match the time posted on my first lap during subsequent laps. Finally, I pushed too much once again and came completely off the track. I need to draw a line under today’s qualifying and concentrate fully on tomorrow’s race. I have already demonstrated in the last points-scoring fixtures that my strengths lie primarily in the race itself.“
Wolfgang Schattling, Head of DTM Management: "That was an eventful qualifying session in which we got four DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés into the top 10 on the grid – but unfortunately, at the wrong end of the top 10, in positions seven to ten! The cancellation of the fourth qualifying segment was certainly a curious affair, but it did not affect us, because none of our drivers progressed into Q4.
The first qualifying session at the Moscow Raceway did not go brilliantly for us. Tomorrow’s race lasts 74 laps and a lot can happen on such a short, narrow track. Especially the early stages of the race will be very hectic, for sure, as regards securing top positions, so I would not write us off just yet. Our drivers have shown in the last few races that they and our cars have a good race pace and our team of engineers led by Gerhard Ungar will definitely work out a good strategy by tomorrow."