Monza DTM: Mercedes sets Friday practice pace, Albon third

Winward Mercedes driver Philip Ellis topped the times in Friday practice for the 2021 DTM season opener at Monza, as Alex Albon and Liam Lawson finished third and fourth overall for Red Bull.

Monza DTM: Mercedes sets Friday practice pace, Albon third

The new GT3 era of the DTM began in earnest on Friday, with two 45-minute practice sessions taking place at the Italian Formula 1 venue.

Last year’s runner-up Nico Muller set the early pace in FP1 with a time of 1m47.91 in the Team Rosberg Audi, before Red Bull Formula 1 reserve Albon moved to the top with a 1m47.646s.

Lawson then lapped the circuit just 0.024s adrift in the sister AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GT3 to make it a one-two for Red Bull, with Muller remaining third in the R8 LMS GT3.

Testing pacesetter Maximilian Gotz managed to find more time at exactly the midpoint of the session, his time of 1m47.624s in the HRT Mercedes putting him just fractionally ahead of Albon.

Gotz’s lap wasn’t beaten until second practice in the afternoon, when Ellis - who skipped FP1 along with Winward Mercedes teammate Lucas Auer - managed a 1m47.617s on his first real flyer.

There were no other improvements at the front of the field in FP2, as Ellis, Gotz, Albon and Lawson made up the combined top four - the quartet separated by just 0.071s.

Team Abt Audi driver Kelvin van der Linde set the third-fastest time in the afternoon, 0.331s off Ellis, with Arjun Maini ending up fourth in the GetSpeed Mercedes.

However, the Indian racer is under investigation after the right-rear wheel on his Mercedes-AMG GT3 was dislodged in the pitlane just as he passed a Walkenhorst mechanic, who was rolling Marco Wittmann’s BMW into the garage.

The loose wheel bounced across the fast lane and then back before coming to rest, with Maini parking the car at the end of the pitlane. 

Wittmann, whose mechanic avoided the out-of-control tyre, ended FP2 just behind Maini in fifth with a time of 1m48.247s, as Sheldon van der Linde finished sixth in the Rowe Racing BMW.

Esteban Muth was seventh quickest in the lead J3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan, with Auer ending up nearly a second off his teammate in eighth. The top 10 was completed by 2013 champion Mike Rockenfeller (Abt) and Maximilian Buhk, the latter substituting for Gary Paffett at the Mucke Mercedes team while the British driver is on Formula E duty.

After running near the front in FP1, Albon and Lawson propped up the timesheets in the afternoon, ending up 17th and 18th in their respective Ferraris.

DTM returnee Daniel Jucandella, who finished sixth fastest in the morning for GruppeM Mercedes, didn’t take part in FP2 later in the day.

FP1 results:

Cla # Driver Car Time Gap
1 4 Germany Maximilian Götz
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'47.624
2 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 1'47.646 0.022
3 30 New Zealand Liam Lawson
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 1'47.670 0.046
4 51 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'47.688 0.064
5 5 France Vincent Abril
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'47.724 0.100
6 8 Spain Daniel Juncadella
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'48.084 0.460
7 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M6 GT3 1'48.137 0.513
8 18 Germany Maximilian Buhk
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'48.220 0.596
9 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'48.298 0.674
10 12 United States Dev Gore
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'48.372 0.748

FP2 results:

Cla # Driver Car Time Gap
1 57 United Kingdom Philip Ellis
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'47.617
2 51 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'47.884 0.267
3 3 South Africa Kelvin van der Linde
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'47.948 0.331
4 36 India Arjun Maini
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'48.078 0.461
5 11 Germany Marco Wittmann
BMW M6 GT3 1'48.247 0.630
6 31 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M6 GT3 1'48.329 0.712
7 10 Esteban Muth
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 1'48.477 0.860
8 22 Austria Lucas Auer
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'48.546 0.929
9 9 Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Audi R8 LMS Evo 1'48.562 0.945
10 18 Germany Maximilian Buhk
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1'48.753 1.136
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