Zandvoort: Mercedes preview

The situation in the 2005 DTM prior to the eighth round at Zandvoort this coming weekend is exciting. Gary Paffett, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes, winner of three races this season so far, is ranked second overall with one point behind Mattias...

The situation in the 2005 DTM prior to the eighth round at Zandvoort this coming weekend is exciting. Gary Paffett, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes, winner of three races this season so far, is ranked second overall with one point behind Mattias Ekström (Audi). After the Swede had won the last race at the Nürburgring following a mistake of leader Paffett, Mercedes-Benz and Audi arrive at Zandvoort each with the maximum weight of 1,070 kilograms in their 2005 cars.

Important Qualifying: At the 4.307-kilometre long circuit in the middle of the North Sea dunes offers only a few overtaking opportunities. Therefore regular qualifying and single-lap qualifying become even more important. So far only 11 times out of 27 single-lap qualifyings (41 percent), the fastest of the regular qualifying also achieved pole position in the fight for the so-called Super Pole.

In six single-lap qualifyings in 2005 (cancelled at Oscherslaben due to the weather), it happened only once: Gary Paffett at Brno. When Mika Häkkinen claimed pole position at Spa this year, he also made the biggest step to the front improving from eighth in regular qualifying to the top in the fight for Super Pole.

Reunion in the dunes: Häkkinen, Allan McNish (Audi) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Opel) raced against each other at Zandvoort already 17 years ago, 1988 in a race of the Opel Lotus Euro Series. 19-year-old Häkkinen won and later also took the championship title whilst McNish who was his team mate at Dragon Motorsport in that year and Frentzen ended up third and sixth respectively.

Formula 1 driver Christijan Albers will drive the DTM C-Class race taxi: The Dutchman had won at Zandvoort two years ago and achieved a total of five DTM victories as a Mercedes-Benz works driver in 2003 and 2004. He is the local hero at his home circuit. Since it was published, that he will drive the AMG-Mercedes C-Class race taxi and demonstration laps with his Formula 1 Minardi at Zandvoort, sales increased by about 500 tickets a day. So far more than 24,000 tickets have been sold already.

The circuit: The Zandvoort race track is located close to the North Sea shores. If it is windy sand makes the surface slippery and causes changeable conditions. Mercedes-Benz drivers Uwe Alzen (2001) and Christijan Albers (2003) won two of the four DTM races at Zandvoort so far.

Comments of the AMG-Mercedes C-Class drivers:

Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes, third at the Nürburgring):

"Unfortunately I threw away the race win and the championship lead at the Nürburgring when I made a silly mistake crossing the white line at the pit lane exit. I want to do better at Zandvoort."

Mika Häkkinen (Sport Edition AMG-Mercedes, fourth):

"I have good memories of Zandvoort, as I have won my only race here so far. However - and I hardly dare to say it - this was 17 years ago and was a race of the Opel Lotus Euro Series. Meanwhile the track has been remodelled and has slightly different characteristics. Anyway, I aim for a replay of my last result here."

Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, fifth):

"Zandvoort is an interesting and challenging circuit and the crowd always provide a great atmosphere. I like to race here; however after three podiums and a fifth place I still need to win - I hope this will change this year."

Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes, seventh):

"Positions eight, five and 11 - Zandvoort was hardly worth the trips for me so far. I will do everything already in qualifying to create the basis for a better race result."

Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes, eighth):

"Last year, I enjoyed a clear victory and the title win in the Formula 3 Euro Series at Zandvoort. Now, in my first DTM season, I want to finish on the podium."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"Zandvoort has tradition, in former day in Formula 1, today in the DTM. We always saw great races here with a fantastic atmosphere. No wonder that Zandvoort is one of the DTM's favourite venues. The spectators at the circuit as well as the TV viewers - more than two million on average during each ARD live broadcast in Germany this year - like the close and intense fight for the overall lead."

"Of course, I would like a bigger gap to our competition. It's good that the HWA team won five out of seven races so far this year; however, it's not so good that we unnecessarily threw away victory in the last race at the Nürburgring. We will try to make up at Zandvoort."

"Everybody in the DTM is happy about Christijan Albers making a visit to his former domain and to our team on his home ground. We are pleased that he will drive guests around the circuit with one of our race taxis and that he will try to establish a new lap record for his home track with his Formula One Minardi."

"Who knows where Christijan will end up once after his education in DTM and Formula One - one of his predecessors at Minardi was Fernando Alonso, now leading the Formula One World Championship."


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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Allan McNish , Fernando Alonso , Bernd Schneider , Uwe Alzen , Christijan Albers , Norbert Haug , Mattias Ekström , Gary Paffett , Jamie Green