Mercedes leads opening day of DTM testing as GT3 era begins

Maximilian Gotz led a 1-2 finish for Mercedes in a snow-disrupted opening day of DTM pre-season test at the Hockenheim circuit in Germany.

Mercedes leads opening day of DTM testing as GT3 era begins

Following the demise of the Class One era, Wednesday’s test day marked the first official DTM running with GT3 cars that will form the basis of the championship in 2021.

A total of four sessions were held during the day, two of them shared with the GT4-based DTM Trophy, with a total of eight hours of on-track action available to the teams - although the afternoon session was cut-short due to snowfall.

DTM newcomer Kelvin van der Linde set the early pace for the Abt Audi team on a cold wintery morning, setting a time of 1m36.867s to lead the AlphaTauri-livered Ferrari of 2021 Red Bull Formula 1 reserve driver Alex Albon.

Haupt Racing driver Gotz sat third early on but improved to a 1m36.590s in the second morning session to snatch the top spot, as his time remained unbeaten in the afternoon.

Gotz’s team-mate Vincent Abril was the only other driver to beat Audi GT3 ace van der Linde’s early benchmark, ending the session second fastest with a best time of 1m36.759s.

Red Bull-backed Liam Lawson finished fourth on the timesheet behind van der Linde in the lead AF Corse-run Ferrari, but ahead of the Team Rosberg Audi of last year’s runner-up Nico Muller and teammate Albon.

With Albon in sixth, Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann led the charge for BMW, ending up six tenths off the pace in Walkenhorst’s sole M6 GT3.

Sheldon van der Linde was eighth for Rowe Racing BMW, while two-time DTM champion Gary Paffett ended up ninth on his return to the series with Mucke Mercedes.

GetSpeed’s test driver Fabian Scheller, sharing the team’s #2 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Arjun Maini, completed the top 10 with a time of 1m37.349s.

2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller was classified 11th after taking over from team-mate van der Linde in the afternoon, while Lucas Auer (Winward Mercedes) and Timo Glock (Rowe BMW) finished 14th and 16th respectively.

The final session of the day was delayed by snowfall, with organisers waiting until 5:10pm local time before allowing cars to venture out on track again. However, most of the drivers elected to stay in the garage, with Albon the only exception as he completed two installation laps before returning to the pits.

Only 15 cars were present at Hockenheim on Wednesday, with Rowe Racing only bringing a single BMW M6 GT3 and Abt Audi running two cars for its trio of drivers. JP Motorsport, which is running a part campaign in the DTM with a McLaren 720S GT3 driven by ex-F1 driver Christian Klien, was absent from the test.

The Hockenheim pre-season test continues for a second day on Thursday, with another eight hours of running scheduled across four sessions.

Hockenheim DTM test - Day 1 results:

1. Maximilian Gotz (Haupt-Mercedes) 1:36.590
2. Vincent Abril (Haupt-Mercedes) 1:36.759
3. Kelvin van der Linde (Abt-Audi) 1:36.867
4. Liam Lawson (AF-Corse-Ferrari) 1:36.897
5. Nico Müller (Rosberg-Audi)1:36.945
6. Alex Albon (AF-Corse-Ferrari) 1:37.091
7. Marco Wittmann (Walkenhorst-BMW) 1:37.260
8. Sheldon van der Linde (Rowe-BMW) 1:37.264
9. Gary Paffett (Mücke-Mercedes) 1:37.291
10. Fabian Schiller (GetSpeed-Mercedes) 1:37.349
11. Mike Rockenfeller (Abt-Audi) 1:37.641
12. Daniel Juncadella (GruppeM-Mercedes) 1:37.737
13. Philip Ellis (Winward-Mercedes) 1:37.875
14. Lucas Auer (Winward-Mercedes) 1:38.127
15. Sophia Flörsch (Abt-Audi) 1:38.394
16. Timo Glock (Rowe-BMW) 1:38.466
17. Arjun Maini (GetSpeed-Mercedes) 1:38.753
18. Dev Gore (Rosberg-Audi) 1:38.831

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