Tales from the paddock: Class victory number 1,000 in season opener on the Nordschleife

Apr 21, 2021

An action-packed F1 race featuring an impressive recovery, plus a very special milestone for the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams – our review of the past race weekend

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

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • F1: Lewis Hamilton salvages runner-up spot in Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
  • GTWCE: Jules Gounon, Daniel Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello finish second in Endurance Cup at Monza
  • NLS: 1,000th class win for the Customer Racing programme in season opener at the Nürburgring

News snippets

Facts & figures from Imola: The second race of the 2021 Formula One season was contested in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy last weekend. Making only their second competitive appearance as a factory outfit on the historic track at Imola, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team again secured pole position against strong opposition. After Valtteri Bottas had set the fastest qualifying time at Imola last year, it was the turn of Lewis Hamilton, who booked pole position for the 99th time in his F1 career. Sunday’s race was as action-packed as it was chaotic, and Lewis was obliged to stage a heroic charge through the field to salvage second place. It was his 167th podium finish in the highest echelon of motorsport. He also clocked the fastest race lap for the 54th time and for the second time in a row at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. The bonus point ensured that Lewis retained his lead in the drivers’ world championship by that same slender margin after the second round of the season.

Valencia, here we come: After Diriyah and Rome, Valencia is the next host city on the itinerary of the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Circuit Ricardo Tormo will be the setting for yet another double-header next weekend (24/25 April). The circuit, which is also used for F1 testing and staging the MotoGP World Championship, is one of the few permanent race tracks on the calendar of the all-electric series. The team will consequently have to contend with various new challenges in rounds five and six of the campaign. Although the 3.376 km circuit just outside the city will host the first E-Prix to be held on Spanish soil, Valencia is not entirely uncharted territory for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, as they were participants in the official winter tests there in the past two years. This coming weekend will be the first occasion on which they will be competing for world championship points in Valencia.

1,000th class win for a Customer Racing team at NLS season opener: The venue for the milestone achievement could not have been more fitting: the Customer Racing programme celebrated its first ever victory on the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife in October 2010. After the season opener of the 2021 Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) last weekend, the Customer Racing teams have now chalked up a 1,000th class victory for the Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG GT4 and SLS AMG GT3. In the 45th NIMEX DMV 4-hour race, GetSpeed Performance, BLACK FALCON Team TEXTAR and Schnitzelalm Racing were all winners in their respective classes, making the grand total a nice round number.

GT3 debutant Moritz Kranz (GER) and Janine Shoffner (GBR) finished 13th overall in the number 9 Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by GetSpeed Performance, a result that was enough to secure them a commanding victory in the SP9 Am class. BLACK FALCON Team TEXTAR spearheaded by Mustafa Mehmet Kaya (TUR), Gabriele Piana (ITA) and Mike Stursberg (GER) in the number 140 Mercedes-AMG GT4 picked up on their dominant form of the previous season, securing victory in the combined SP4T and SP8T class ahead of the number 141 sister car. The thousand-victory milestone was then passed with Fidel Leib, Marcel Marchewicz and Reinhold Renger (all GER) in the number 162 Schnitzelalm Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 claiming victory in the SP10 class.

Podiums in the opening round of the GT World Challenge Europe: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams also showed their mettle in the fiercely contested GT World Challenge Europe series. At the end of a rain-affected three-hour race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, they made podium appearances in the general classification and in the Silver Cup. Jules Gounon (FRA), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) in the number 88 car entered by Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP started the race in a highly promising position, having booked P2 in qualifying. Jules Gounon (FRA) made a decisive contribution to the combined qualifying time, setting a GT3 lap record for Monza in the shootout. In the race, too, the cars from Affalterbach were at the front of the field. At one point, there were no fewer than five Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the Top Ten, with the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT and the #88 looking set for a one-two finish before the HRT car sustained a puncture. The second high-performance car from Affalterbach held on among the leading group, and Gounon driving the final stint clinched the runner-up spot after fending off some determined challenges. A podium finish in the Silver Cup went to the WINWARD Racing trio of Philip Ellis (SUI), Mikael Grenier (CAN) and Russell Ward (USA) in the number 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Having started from 19th on the grid, they fought their way up to seventh overall over the course of the 79 laps, equivalent to a P3 in their class.

And it wasn’t only on the real race track that drivers of the Customer Racing teams were scoring points towards the GT World Challenge Europe championship. For the first time, the GT3 drivers were competing for additional points in a virtual event. Daniel Juncadella (ESP/AKKA ASP Team) and Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG/Madpanda Motorsport) were among the successful contestants in the one-hour race of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, finishing second overall and second in the Silver Cup standings respectively.

The opening race of the GT4 European Series, also held in Monza, brought further podium success. Lluc Ibañez and Xavier Lloveras (both ESP) finished the second race of the weekend in sixth place overall, equivalent to third place in the Silver Cup.   

Further successes for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 and Mercedes-AMG GT3: In the second round of the Japanese Super Taikyu at Sportsland Sugo, the Mercedes-AMG GT4s were the dominant force in the ST-Z class. TKRI and Endless Sports made it a Mercedes one-two in the three-hour race. The number 23 car driven by Takaki Hamada, Daisuke Matsunaga, Yuja Motoshima (all JPN) crossed the finish line first after 103 laps, followed by Togo Suganami, Yudai Uchida and Hideki Yamauchi (all JPN) in the number 3. It was a strong result all round, with Team 5ZIGEN finishing fourth and B-Max Racing seventh.     

The ESET Cup Series is held in various countries of Eastern Europe, and here too, cars built in Affalterbach were unbeatable in their class. The Mercedes-AMG GT3s won all three races at the Hungaroring in the GT3 category, managing one podium lockout and a one-two finish. Marcin Jedlinski (POL) of Olimp Racing delivered two of the three class wins. In the first sprint race, he took the chequered flag ahead of his father and team-mate Stanislaw Jedlinski (POL) and Aliyyah Koloc (CZE) of Buggyra Zero Mileage Racing. In the endurance race, David Vrsecky (CZE) and Koloc sharing the cockpit of the #29, finished second in class. Class win number three this weekend went to Vrsecky in the second sprint race.

The season opener in the Michelin Le Mans Cup also ended with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 scoring decent points. Kenneth Heyer (GER) and Wim Spinoy (BEL) finished fourth for the 10Q Racing Team in the two-hour race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Social Media News

#wearedrivenbycuriosity: Three cars with one purpose, namely to advance technological innovation within the Mercedes EQ brand. Ian James and Christoph Starzynski offer insights into the contribution being made by the latest EQS, VISION AVTR and Silver Arrow 02 to energy efficiency on the track and on the public highway for a more sustainable future.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1wYoGOBwJs

#GTWCE: Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP made it onto the podium in a hectic curtain-raiser to the 2021 GT World Challenge Europe. Relive this thrilling three-hour race.

Watch video: www.facebook.com/MercedesAMGCustomerRacing/videos/226797732575126

#6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
#87 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
#20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, SPS automotive performance
Luca Stolz and Maro Engel, #6 Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT
Jules Gounon, Petru Razvan Umbrarescu (#89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP), Maro Engel and Luca Stolz (#6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT) at the podium ceremony
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
#6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Emilia Romagna GP 2021. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Emilia Romagna GP 2021. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Emilia Romagna GP 2021. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Emilia Romagna GP 2021. Lewis Hamilton
Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Emilia Romagna GP 2021. Lewis Hamilton
#165 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Schnitzelalm Racing
#165 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Schnitzelalm Racing
#15 Mercedes-AMG GT4, NM Racing Team
#70 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Trivellato Racing by Villorba Corse
#87 Mercedes-AMG GT4, AKKA ASP Team
#35 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Selleslagh Racing Team