Tales from the paddock: Christoph Sagemüller looks ahead to the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring: “Obviously, we’re in it to win!”

Jun 2, 2021

While Formula One returns to the streets of Baku, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams will be contesting the standout fixture of the GT season on the Nürburgring Nordschleife

  • 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

  • GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup: Jules Gounon, Daniel Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello finish sixth in the 6-hour race at Le Castellet
  • GT4 European Series: Victory for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in Race 1 at Circuit Paul Ricard

News snippets

Baku, here we come: Baku City Circuit is on the Formula One calendar for the fifth time this year. The track made its F1 debut in 2016 when it was chosen as the venue for the European Grand Prix. Since 2017, the 6.003 kilometre long street circuit has hosted the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Last season, F1 was unable to visit Baku as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The race due to take place in Baku this coming weekend marks a return after just over two years. The inaugural winner on the high-speed street circuit was Nico Rosberg in the F1 W07 Hybrid. Of the four races contested there to date, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has won three, but each time with a different driver; following up on Rosberg’s success in 2016 were Lewis Hamilton (2018) and Valtteri Bottas (2019). The race in 2017 was won by Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull. Nico, Lewis and Valtteri have also booked one pole position each in qualifying so far. The fourth pole went to Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in the 2018 season. The two lap records were both set in 2019: Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari posted the fastest race lap to date in a time of 1:43.009 minutes, while Valtteri holds the absolute track record with a qualifying time of 1:40.495 minutes.

New Junior driver: We welcome a new member to the Mercedes Motorsport family. 13-year-old Yuanpu Cui from China sat behind the wheel of a go-kart for the first time at the age of six and has been celebrating successes in various kart series around the world every year since 2016.  Yuanpu was signed as a Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Junior earlier this year. His father was a racing driver, so Yuanpu’s future career was more or less mapped out for him from an early age. He quickly developed a love of racing and enjoyed both the sense of speed and the competition. This year, Yuanpu is once again competing in a number of different karting series in the OK Junior class as a member of the Kart Republic (Argenti Motorsport) squad.

Class win in GT World Challenge Europe: In the second round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, AKKA ASP delivered a class win for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport. In the six-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard, Thomas Drouet (FRA), Simon Gachet (FRA) and Konstantin Tereschenko (RUS) in the number 87 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished eleventh overall, which was enough for victory in the Silver Cup. The best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the general classification was the number 88 sister car driven by Jules Gounon (FRA), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) in P6, a result that puts AKKA ASP in second place in the team standings. Raffaele Marciello occupies the same position in the drivers’ championship.

As with the season opener of the GT World Challenge Europe at Monza, a virtual race in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series was again held in the context of the second endurance weekend. Daniel Juncadella of AKKA ASP and Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG) of Madpanda Motorsport once again secured bonus points towards the physical championship. Juncadella scored two points in the sim rig for second place in the Pro class, while Companc claimed an additional point on the virtual Circuit Paul Ricard for third place in the Silver classification.

Race win in GT4 European Series: In the GT4 European Series races held at the same venue, Lluc Ibañez and Xavier Lloveras (both ESP) of NM Racing Team posted a comfortable lights-to-flag victory. The famous track in southern France evidently suits the Spanish Customer Racing team: last season, their number 15 Mercedes-AMG GT4 won both races at Circuit Paul Ricard.

In the second of the two one-hour races on Sunday, AKKA ASP enjoyed another podium success: Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla (both FRA) in the number 87 Mercedes-AMG GT4 finished runners-up in the Pro-Am class with a P5 overall.

Three questions for Christoph Sagemüller

Since taking over as Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport at the beginning of the year, Christoph Sagemüller has been responsible for coordinating Mercedes-AMG’s successful motorsport activities. In the run-up to the 49th ADAC TOTAL 24h Race at the Nürburgring (3 - 6 June), he spoke to us about one of the highlights of the GT racing calendar and revealed some of the treats in store for motorsport fans.  

Christoph, this will be your first 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in your new role. What are your feelings about the weekend?

Christoph Sagemüller: For me, in my new role, it means first of all anticipation, combined with a certain tension. Because this 24-hour race is one of the biggest events of the season in motorsport, and every year you ask yourself: “Have we prepared well enough? How successful can we be?” For us, this race has always had a special significance, because the Nürburgring is inextricably linked with the AMG brand. The ‘Green Hell’ is also one of the most important development and test tracks for our road cars. I’m also very pleased that we can use the most important event of the season at this track to showcase several exciting projects to a wider public. Foremost among them is our forward-looking partnership with BWT, Europe’s market leader in water treatment, who share our commitment to cutting down on the use of plastic. The unity of purpose will be clearly visible in the cars fielded by the Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Performance as well as in the outfits worn by the drivers. Our partnership with the British streetwear label PALACE will also be visually striking. The collaboration not only includes a vehicle livery designed by PALACE, but also a jointly developed streetwear collection inspired by motorsport. But quite apart from these exciting novelties, the sense of anticipation that I and all of our employees feel is immense, no different from any other motorsport fan.

What is it about this year’s 24-hour race at the Nürburgring that should get Mercedes-AMG Motorsport fans especially excited? 

Christoph Sagemüller: Our strong driver line-up and our cars, of course. The number 6 of Mercedes-AMG Team HRT will be sporting a spectacular livery thanks to our aforementioned partnership with PALACE. I’m also particularly pleased about the number 25 car of Space Drive Racing, because the advancement of innovative technologies has always been a central part of our philosophy. Their Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be using the latest steer-by-wire technology. By eliminating the steering column, there is no longer any mechanical connection to the wheels of the car. This technology is going to play a vital role in the development of safe autonomous driving.

Apart from our cars, fans should take a look at our driver line-up which is unique in its breadth of makeup. It includes young, up-and-coming drivers as well as established greats of GT racing.

As there are unfortunately still severe restrictions on attendance by the public this year, we will be offering an exclusive AMG livestream of the 24-hour race in the AMG Private Lounge, which will offer glimpses behind the scenes. We are also using the 24-hour event as an opportunity to further expand our social media offering. With new and independent Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels from Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, we aim to create an all‑encompassing platform that will give motorsport enthusiasts and fans insights into the Mercedes-AMG world of motorsport.

Have you set any particular targets for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in the 24-hour race?

Christoph Sagemüller: Obviously, we are in it to win! Getting a third overall victory to add to the ones in 2013 and 2016 is what drives us on; it’s what the entire team has been working hard to achieve for many weeks now. So even before the weekend starts, I want to take this opportunity to thank every single member of staff for their efforts so far; they have made it possible to bring our great setup to the start line for this challenging 24-hour race. We feel optimally prepared and are looking forward to a fair fight on the track with the other manufacturers. However, we also know from the past that, in addition to meticulous preparation, racing skills and, above all, a strong team performance, you always need the necessary quantum of racing luck in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. This is especially the case in the Eifel, where extreme weather conditions often provide additional challenges. So, fingers crossed!!!

Social Media News

#F1RaceDebrief: Following the Monaco Grand Prix, our Motorsport Strategy Director James Vowles faced a barrage of questions. In our F1 race briefing, he talks about the most important topics of discussion – wheel nuts, undercuts and much more besides.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoDu5Oti5pw

#MyJobInF1: In the latest episode of ‘My Job in F1’, our Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin tells us about his activities at the track and in the factory.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3csPVRJyR0

#MercedesAMGMotorsport #24hNBR #PalaceAMG: The number 6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by Mercedes-AMG Team HRT will have a unique paintjob for the Nürburgring 24-hour race. The eye-catching super sports car has already completed its rollout at the Nürburgring.

Watch video: www.facebook.com/watch/?v=475952147020070

#6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT and #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
#20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, SPS automotive performance
#90 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Madpanda Motorsport
#90 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Madpanda Motorsport
#89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
#20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, SPS automotive performance
Valentin Pierburg and Dominik Baumann (1st place), SPS automotive performance, at the podium ceremony
#34 Mercedes-AMG GT4, Selleslagh Racing Team
#74 Mercedes-AMG GT4, CD Sport
#15 Mercedes-AMG GT4, NM Racing Team
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT4, AKKA ASP Team
Christoph Sagemüller