Tales from the paddock – Stefan Wendl: “We are among the absolute elite in GT racing”
Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, looks back on a high-achieving season and talks about the challenges that lie ahead in the New Year.
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Stefan Wendl
- Social media news: What’s new online?
Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing celebrates a successful 2019 and embarks on its anniversary season in 2020 with a new Mercedes-AMG GT3: Following a record-breaking 2018 season, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing posted yet another impressive set of results in 2019. Between them, the AMG Customer Teams entered more than 1,400 races in popular motorsport series around the globe, registering 247 class victories and further illustrating the ongoing internationalisation of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Programme. Various titles in prestigious competitions such as the Blancpain GT Series, the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring and, last but not least, the win in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau further confirmed the GT leadership credentials of the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach.
In addition to sporting prowess of the present achieved in the 2019 season, Mercedes-AMG had its eye firmly on the future. The unveiling of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 sends out a clear signal that the offer for customer racing teams will be further expanded and the successful GT3 programme will be continued in the forthcoming season. The new racing car is an Evolution model that comes with a revised design and a range of engineering optimisations. After intensive testing, which produced encouraging results at Portimão and at the Nürburgring, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will make its official race debut in the 24 Hours of Dubai, a race that coincides with the tenth anniversary of Mercedes-Benz AMG Customer Racing.
Three questions for Stefan Wendl
Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, can look back with satisfaction on another extremely successful season in GT racing. Between them, the customer teams chalked up more than 40 championship titles in top-class series around the world in 2019, matching and in some case surpassing the record-breaking season of the previous year. In addition, the course for the future was set with the unveiling of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Stefan, after the record year of 2018, expectations were higher than ever this season. The Customer Racing teams made another powerful statement in 2019 with 247 class victories in some 500 races. How would you sum up the campaign?
Stefan Wendl: This year, we once again demonstrated in imperious fashion that we are among the absolute elite in GT racing. Whether they were fielding the Mercedes-AMG GT3 or the GT4, our 93 active customer teams and 392 drivers enjoyed great successes around the world, accentuating the impressive performance of the previous year. It is not easy to get yourself into a leading position in GT racing – and it is even more difficult to defend this position year after year. But that’s precisely what we have managed to do, and I would like to thank all of our drivers, teams and colleagues for these outstanding performances. Without the excellent collaboration at all levels, the successes achieved this season would not have been possible.
The season was characterised by some thrilling wheel-to-wheel action on the track. What was your personal highlight of 2019?
Stefan Wendl: Every single victory is special in its own right, and every title has its own cachet. I was especially pleased by the fact that we were once again successful across the different continents. We competed on 98 tracks in 30 countries, winning championships not only in Europe but also in America, Asia and Australia. In sprint as well as endurance races and from the amateur classes through to the professional categories, we produced entertaining racing action and were in contention for the championship in almost every series we contested, right through to the very end. This is a prime example of the work we do together with our customer teams on a day-to-day basis.
Let’s look to the future: What new opportunities are opening up for the latest Mercedes-AMG GT3 which the first customer teams will be officially driving in 2020?
Stefan Wendl: The GT segment is a fast-growing one. Year on year, the popularity, professionalism and – consequently – the racing quality are on the increase. Against this background, we are looking closely at those aspects of the vehicle where there is still scope for optimisation. We have been working closely with our customer teams and their drivers in terms of analysis as well as in the many test runs on the racetrack, with the aim of offering them an individually tailored overall package. After an intensive testing phase, we can say without exaggeration that the developments we are making are once again setting new standards in the GT segment. Our customers receive an advanced and competitive vehicle right from the start. The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will make its first outing in Dubai early in 2020. Hopefully, this will mark a continuation of the success story for our Customer Racing Programme as it enters its tenth year. At the end, of course, we will want to crown our anniversary season with as many titles as possible.
Social Media News
#ProjectONE: What a sight for sore eyes, what a drive! Lewis Hamilton’s first impressions of Project ONE on the track.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjMnIpSU-Fo
#ATeamComeTrue: Lewis and Valtteri travelled to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia after the final race to celebrate the successful 2019 Formula 1 season in the company of the PETRONAS workforce.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfEJJ13J3Cs
#PurePitWall: By popular demand, Toto takes on the role normally assumed by James and Shov and answers fans’ questions about the Abu Dhabi GP. The topics covered include the effect of the DRS problem on Valtteri’s charge through the field and Lewis clocking the fastest race lap.
Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeDjahLGPx0
#AMGGT3 / #AMGGT4 / #MercedesAMGMotorsport: A breathtaking customer sports season ends with multiple titles in the bag. We have put together the racing highlights of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 and GT4 in this video.
Watch video: www.facebook.com/watch/?v=805025876617112
#IGTC / #MercedesAMGMotorsport: Five continents, five races, one showdown: The highlights of an exciting and action-packed season in the Intercontinental GT Challenge can be found here.
Watch video: www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2524959880892230
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