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Maini: Mercedes happy with my potential, but DTM results can be better

HRT driver Arjun Maini says Mercedes is pleased with the potential he has shown in his first two seasons in GT3 racing, but admits his results in the DTM leave something to be desired.

Arjun Maini, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3

Arjun Maini, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3

DTM

After a junior racing career that yielded race wins in British F4, Toyota Racing Series and the GP3 Series, Maini made a full-time switch to sportscar racing in 2021 with Mercedes to primarily compete in the DTM.

Scoring a maiden podium finish and several top-five qualifying results with the single-car GetSpeed team last year, the Indian driver moved to the HRT squad that powered Maximilian Gotz to the title, embarking on a dual programme in DTM and GT World Challenge Europe in 2022.

Maini initially struggled to understand the set-up philosophy of HRT, especially in the face of a larger and more competitive grid compared to 2021, but his performances improved in the latter part of the campaign.

Speaking during the Hockenheim title finale, Mercedes junior Maini said the German manufacturer knows what he is capable of after racing for two seasons under its wings. But equally, he wants to strive for better results having felt he hasn’t delivered up to his potential in DTM this year.

Asked how the reception from Mercedes’ customer racing arm has been about his second year with the marque, the Indian driver told Autosport: “Happy from what I've been looking at, happy with my potential but of course the results haven't been where I want them to be. 

“It's a matter of time before it starts coming together. I think it's a very tough championship. You can be in the top five one day and the next day you're 18th, 19th. It's not that you've had a bad one, it's just that the level is so high. 

“I just need to work on getting there more consistently in the top 10 and then already you are much higher in the championship. 

“Towards the end of last year, I was super strong as well. But I think at the beginning of the year I struggled a bit. I would say I went a bit backwards if anything. 

“It's more about putting it together. I was struggling, making a lot of mistakes and stuff. So, through the year I've improved and now I think I'm finally back at the level that is slightly better than where I ended last year.”

Arjun Maini, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT

Arjun Maini, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT

Photo by: DTM

Maini was running inside podium positions at the Red Bull Ring last month, with only a slow out lap on slick tyres on a track that was still wet leaving him fourth at the finish. 

He eventually ended the season 19th in the standings on 24 points, beating some other drivers from the Mercedes’ stable including Mikael Grenier, Maximilian Buhk and David Schumacher.

Results have been much better in GTWCE with the same HRT team, with Maini ending up fifth in the Gold division alongside team owner Hubert Haupt and Florian Scholze in the #5 Mercedes. 

In fact, the Indian driver was leading the class going into the last lap of the season finale at Barcelona, only to be taken out by the Winward Mercedes of Lucas Auer in a dramatic end to the race.

Maini said he wants to continue his relationship with Mercedes in 2023 and would ideally like to combine his DTM duties with a drive in other GT3 championships and enduros.

“For me my target is to stay with AMG and try to stay in the DTM,” he said. “That's the main goal and that is what I'm working towards.

“I would like to stay in DTM, that is for sure. This is the place to be. The more championships I can do on the side the better. GT World Challenge is tough [in terms of competition]. As much as I can do, that is what I'm trying.”

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Maini has competed in both the European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series in recent years, and even made his debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2019 at the wheel of an RLR M Sport ORECA 07 in 2017.

However, at the dawn of a new golden era for endurance racing, Maini said he would like to improve on the performances he has shown in GT3 racing and not rush into making a switch to prototypes.

“I'm open to all kind of racing, I'm a pure racer,” he said. “I've done everything now, so wherever I get an opportunity I'm for sure open but I think for now I want to stay here because I've been building on it for a few years and I think I just want to get some results. 

“Although I would be open to [racing in prototypes], I think it would be a mistake to make a change now when I'm getting stronger. 

“If I get something I'm not going to say no, but from personal preference I would like to stay.”

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