Tales from the paddock: Christoph Sagemüller: „This series is incredibly competitive“

Oct 21, 2021

Mercedes-AMG’s great run continues with a third successive GT World Challenge manufacturer’s title

  • This is what happened: Results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Three questions for Christoph Sagemüller
  • Social media news: What’s new online?

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • International GT Challenge: Timur Boguslavskiy, Daniel Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello finish the 8-hour race in Indianapolis in second place
  • Pirelli GT America: Two wins for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in Indianapolis
  • British GT Championship: Double podium for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Donington Park

News snippets

Austin, here we come! Formula One returns to the Circuit of the Americas after the cancellation of last year’s US Grand Prix due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The drivers and teams will be back in Texas this weekend for the 42nd running of the US Grand Prix and the ninth in Austin which hosted its first race in 2012. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has so far recorded five victories in the USA, four of which went to Lewis Hamilton and one to Valtteri Bottas.  Ferrari have the most wins in the United States (10), followed by Lotus and McLaren on eight each. In addition to his two victories there with the Mercedes factory team (2014, 2017), Lewis has won twice with McLaren-Mercedes (2007, 2012). His first win came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007. Valtteri holds the absolute lap record for the Austin circuit with his 2019 pole time of 1:32.029 minutes. The fastest race lap also came in the 2019 season and was clocked by Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc (1:36.169 minutes).

Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP take second place in Indianapolis 8 Hour: In the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge season, the Indianapolis 8 Hour at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) finished a strong second in the number 89 car fielded by Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP. The trio, who had started from eighth position, were still in fifth place at the halfway point of an action-packed race that was punctuated by numerous yellow flags.

Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing, who had qualified for the second row of the grid, were also in a promising position for a long time. Luca Stolz (GER) in the #99 car even managed to take the lead three hours before the end of the race. Hopes for a victory were dashed in the last stint when team-mate Jules Gounon (FRA) was hit by a lapped car he was attempting to overtake. This collision forced the Frenchman to park his car 37 minutes before the end of the race. On the basis of number of laps completed at that point, the team finished 23rd overall and 8th in the Pro class.

Another fine performance in the eight-hour race came from the SunEnergy1 Racing trio of Mikael Grenier (CAN), Kenny Habul (AUS) and Martin Konrad (AUT) in the #75 car who crossed the finish line in tenth place, which was enough for victory in the Pro-Am class. The #63 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of DXDT Racing driven by David Askew, Scott Smithson (both USA) and Ryan Dalziel (GBR) contributed another top finish for Mercedes-AMG with a P4 in the Pro‑Am class.

Third manufacturers’ title in a row for Mercedes-AMG in the GT World Challenge: In the final round of the GT World Challenge America season, which was contested over the first three hours of the Indianapolis 8 Hour, Mercedes-AMG once again secured the manufacturers’ title. Three cars, which were competing in both the main eight-hour race and the Intercontinental GT Challenge, clinched the title ahead of the final race weekend of the GT World Challenge in Bathurst, Australia. The number 04 car of Team DXDT Racing driven by Colin Braun and George Kurtz (both USA) took second place in the Pro-Am class at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The number 19 sister car driven by another US partnership, Michael Cooper and Erin Vogel, secured fourth place in their class, a position which they also occupied in the final Pro-Am standings of the GT World Challenge America. Philip Ellis (SUI) and Russell Ward (USA) also took the WINWARD Racing #33 to fourth place in the Silver classification. This highly gratifying end to the season means that the trophy for the best manufacturer goes to the Affalterbach factory for the third time in a row. 

Customer Racing Teams dominate GT4 America season finale: The last fixture of the 2021 GT4 America was also held in the context of the Indianapolis 8 Hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There were several causes for celebration, two of them provided by the number 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4 fielded by Conquest Racing, which took victory in both races thanks to strong drives from Colin Mullan and Michai Stephens (both USA). Having started from second on the grid in the first race on Saturday, the two Americans then produced an impressive fight-back from tenth on the grid on Sunday, which gave the Silver duo their fourth victory in a row. Further top results were achieved by Team Murillo Racing. Their number 72 Mercedes-AMG GT4 driven by Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak (both USA) finished second in the first race and third overall in the final round of the 2021 GT4 America on Sunday. The pair of them had already secured the team and driver championship in the GT4 America Silver Cup ahead of the closing race weekend. 

RAM Racing wrap up British GT championship: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport also shared the credit for yet another title last weekend, namely the British GT Championship. Yelmer Buurman (NED) and Ian Loggie (GBR) took second place in the final race of the series this season at Donington Park. This sufficed for the two RAM Racing veterans in the number 6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to defend their Pro-Am GT3 drivers’ title from last season. Team ABBA Racing in the shape of father-son duo Richard and Sam Neary (both GBR) were third overall in the two-hour race, which was enough for victory in the Silver-Am class. This latest success means that the Nearys and their number 8 Mercedes-AMG finish the season as runners-up in the Silver-Am standings.

Multiple class wins in various race series in China: No fewer than three Chinese race series were contested at the Zhuhai International Circuit last weekend - the China GT Championship, the China Endurance Championship and the GT Super Sprint Challenge. Toro Racing were represented by two cars in the China GT Championship. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 #66 achieved one class win and one runner-up spot, while the number 9 sister car delivered an overall win and a P2 in its class. A six-strong contingent of Mercedes-AMG GT4s fielded by four different teams competed in the China Endurance Championship. Climax Racing contributed a win and a second place in the GT4 class with its two cars, #555 and #777. The third-placed number 34 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Phantom Pro Racing made it a class podium lockout for the brand in the two-and-a-half-hour race. The GT Super Sprint Challenge also gave cause for cheer as the #74 and #21 cars of Climax Racing recorded two wins and two second places in their class. In the first race, Kristie Zhu (CHN) in the number 85 GT4 of KRC - Kang’s Racing Company had already taken third place in class.

Three questions for Christoph Sagemüller

As Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Christoph Sagemüller has had overall responsibility for combining Mercedes-AMG’s successful motorsport activities since the beginning of the year. In his short time in office, the 34-year-old has already enjoyed a string of significant successes. Following closely on the two DTM titles, Mercedes-AMG also secured the trophy for the best manufacturer in the GT World Challenge on Sunday in Indianapolis.

Christoph, the Indianapolis 8 Hour took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the weekend. How did you enjoy this very special event?

Christoph Sagemüller: The track in Indianapolis boasts one of the richest traditions anywhere in the world, which is reflected in the scale and serious intent of the line-up we took to Indiana. The race itself was then characterised by numerous yellow flags and interruptions, which meant that the strategy departments of our teams had to work flat out, constantly adapting to the changed conditions. We are obviously disappointed that Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing were taken out of the race through a no-fault collision while leading the race, which deprived us of a potential victory. We still managed to achieve a great result with an overall P2 courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP and a class victory for SunEnergy1 Racing,

In the GT World Challenge held as part of the supporting programme, Mercedes-AMG secured the manufacturers’ title for the third time in a row. What significance do you attach to reaching this milestone?

Christoph Sagemüller: First of all, many thanks to our teams and drivers from all over the world, who made this possible through their outstanding commitment throughout the season - and moreover for the third time in a row. Successes of this kind are precisely what motivates us here at Mercedes-AMG; it also validates our Customer Sport concept. We are obviously basking in the moment, but at the same time, we must not lose sight of just how incredibly competitive this series is. We’re happy to have taken the championship, but we’re also already looking ahead to next year, when we’ll be aiming for a fourth consecutive manufacturers’ title.

It’s not the first major title for you as Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport. The manufacturers’ title in the DTM was wrapped up two weeks earlier, followed by the drivers’ title a week later. Have you mentally processed what happened on the exciting final weekend?

Christoph Sagemüller: Everyone at Mercedes-AMG Motorsport was obviously delighted to win the manufacturers’ title in our first year in the DTM with GT3 cars and to carry on from our previous successes in this series. It is all the more remarkable when you consider that we only decided on this project at a very late stage. The perfect end to the season was when Maximilian Götz won the drivers’ title in a pulsating finale on his home track, the Norisring. The race was certainly not one for the faint-hearted, as the subsequent controversy showed. Nevertheless, I am very happy for Max and for Mercedes-AMG Team HRT, who have put in consistently strong performances throughout the season, remained focused right up to the end and have been deservedly rewarded for it. Special thanks also go to our drivers, to the Mercedes-AMG teams and to all the people behind the scenes who contributed to this successful DTM season for the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

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#8 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Team ABBA Racing
#6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, RAM Racing
#6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, RAM Racing
Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman, #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, RAM Racing
Christoph Sagemüller
#79 Mercedes-AMG GT4, RENNtech Motorsports
#19 Mercedes-AMG GT3, DXDT Racing
#33 Mercedes-AMG GT3, WINWARD Racing
#63 Mercedes-AMG GT3, DXDT Racing
#72 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Murillo Racing
Colin Mullan and Michai Stephens, #35 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Conquest Racing West
#89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
#04 Mercedes-AMG GT3, DXDT Racing
Timur Boguslavskiy, Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Juncadella, #89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
Kenny Habul, Mikaël Grenier and Martin Konrad, #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3, SunEnergy1 Racing
#21 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Phantom Pro Racing
#66 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Toro Racing
#74 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Climax Racing
#21 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Climax Racing
#35 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Conquest Racing West
#35 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Conquest Racing West