Team, driver and manufacturer titles wrap up thirty years of excellence in famous touring car series.
After thirty years, 436 races, 140 pole positions, 193 fastest laps, seven manufacturer titles, eleven driver titles and fourteen team titles, Mercedes ended its time in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) in fine style when works driver, Gary Paffett, was crowned champion a few weeks ago. The Brit took third place in the last round of the season at the manufacturer’s home circuit, Hockenheim. Audi driver, Rene Rast, fought hard to win the fixture, but Paffett’s finish was his tenth podium of the season, an achievement leading to a tight four-point advantage over the German. It was enough to secure victory.
“It's absolutely incredible,” said Paffett. “This is the best day of my life! I’ve spent the past thirteen years working hard to get back to the top of my game after winning DTM for the first time in 2005. It’s taken a long time to achieve my goal, but this year, Mercedes gave me a great car. I was out on my own for most of the last race and had plenty of time to think about the situation. I found myself counting down the number of laps I had left of my DTM career! I’m sad to draw a close on what’s been an amazing chapter of my life, but it’s a fantastic feeling to have won the 2018 title for Mercedes in its last year of participating in the competition. Thanks to every single member of my team for all their hard work throughout the season.” While continuing to campaign successfully in Formula One, Mercedes will now switch its efforts from DTM to Formula E, a move which sees Aston Martin replace our favourite manufacturer as the third marque on the DTM grid alongside Audi and BMW.
“We’ve done it!” cried Mercedes DTM boss, Ulrich Fritz. “Congratulations to Gary on his second DTM title. It was an incredible fight at the end of the season, with a very close finish in the final race. For us to be returning to Stuttgart with the driver, manufacturer and team titles is nothing short of sensational!”
Mercedes secured its first DTM title in 1992, when Klaus Ludwig raced to the top spot from behind the wheel of a W201 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Top honours came again in 1994 and 1995 before the series folded in 1996 due to unsustainably high costs. Relaunched in its current guise four years later, Mercedes once again reigned supreme, winning the lion’s share of titles until Paffett’s historic victory signalled the end of the manufacturer’s presence in the championship.
DTM has undergone significant changes since Mercedes first participated in 1988. The series looks set for more upheaval following the announcement its regulations will be merged with those of Super GT next year, a move designed to encourage internationalisation – half of the season’s races will be held outside Germany – and the participation of a greater number of teams and manufacturers. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Formula E where Mercedes intends to continue its winning ways.