DTM season finale at Hockenheim: Space Drive Team led by Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport and Maxi Buhk finishes in points
The season finale at the weekend gave the Mercedes Mücke Motorsport team the point it deserved. A positive finish for the Space Drive development team and Maximilian Buhk at the Hockenheimring with the #18 Mercedes-AMG GT3, which is the only car in the field to run without a mechanical connection between the steering unit and steering gear and represents a unique development project. The final race on Sunday lasted only 15 laps for the development driver before he had to park his car. It was the last drive for the successful AMG driver, who is ending his motorsport career after the DTM season.
The penultimate race of the season got off to an extremely positive start on Saturday. After a good qualifying session - just four tenths off pole - Maximilian Buhk started the penultimate race of the season in his Space Drive Mercedes-AMG GT3 from 10th on the grid, came through the numerous incidents unscathed in a very turbulent race and saw the finish line in tenth place after 30 laps. At the start, the 29-year-old Hanseatic managed to stay out of everything and settled in 11th position after the first lap. After a perfect restart, however, he was able to make up places and advanced to fifth, but after contact with an opponent he was set back again somewhat. Shortly afterwards, the race had to be interrupted for 45 minutes after a serious accident involving several cars. After another restart and a perfect pit stop after lap 11, Buhk engaged in a fierce battle with a brand colleague and was ultimately able to prevail. The reward for driver and team; the first championship point of the season.
On Sunday, only 17th place remained on the grid in a field that had shrunk to 20 cars. An accident and the subsequent red flag ended the qualifying early and slowed down Maximilian Buhk on his fast lap. Starting from position 16, Buhk initially found himself at the back of the field. After an early pit stop after lap 6, the Berlin team hoped to make up a few more places to perhaps repeat Saturday's success. The signs were good, but a technical defect ended the race prematurely on lap 15. Mercedes-AMG also took second place in the manufacturers' standings with 413 points.
We started the weekend well. The balance of the car was good from the start and we drove into the points. Qualifying went well. Unfortunately, the technical devil struck today. It was clear from the start that it would be difficult this year with this level of performance. Nevertheless, we did a good job and remained faultless. The steering was very good, I felt very safe and was able to keep up well with the field.
Peter Mücke, Team Principal Mercedes-AMG Team Mücke Motorsport: "The performance from the weekend was good. We were also on a very good track in the second race. But unfortunately there was no happy ending in the last race. It was a very exciting season, including the collaboration with the development team. The result is something to be proud of. We were able to keep up well with this steering system in this demanding field. And we're not at the end of development yet. The project is unique for me."
It was a successful development year for the engineers of the Space Drive Team, with eight different race tracks, almost 6,500 race kilometers and extreme conditions for the innovative steer-by-wire steering system from Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG. At the season opener in Portimao, Portugal, the steering pioneers broke new ground with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. The traditional tracks at Imola and Spa in Belgium were also successful track premieres for the development vehicle, with very different characteristics and important findings for the further development of the innovative steering technology, which is an important key technology for autonomous driving. With extreme heat, fast corners, such as Turn 1 at the Lausitzring, almost aquaplaning in Spiel-berg or the street circuit at the Norisring for the season semi-final - the test fields were fundamentally different: but this was no hurdle for the Space Drive steering system, which reliably delivered the desired steering parameters for the driver and data for the development team.
It's a pity that the technology didn't quite play along in the end. The season was good when you see where we started two years ago and where we are today. We performed well and drove continuously throughout. We were able to take a lot of impetus for the further development of the steering system. The standard was very high. With this project, we have laid an important foundation for the biggest vehicle revolution - the elimination of the steering column.
Axel Randolph, Head of Racing Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG: "We showed this year that we are competitive with the Space Drive steering system, regardless of the track. The system ran flawlessly throughout the season. The point on Saturday was well-deserved reward for a challenging season. Working with the data is a constant process, we are always in exchange with the development team. The knowledge gained from racing in such a demanding field is extremely valuable."