The 2023 motorsport season is officially underway, with Mercedes-AMG Motorsport already preparing to contest the first endurance classics of the year. While the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team is set to unveil its new car for the 2023 Formula One season, the Mercedes-AMG GT3s and GT4s are already on the track, competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E PERFORMANCE Will Unveil
On Wednesday 15 February, the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team will unveil its new car for the 2023 Formula One season to the world’s media for the very first time at a digital launch event in Silverstone. The presentation of the W14 was broadcast live on the team’s social media channels. The new car, named the Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E PERFORMANCE, is the second car that the team has designed to comply with the all-new regulations that came into effect last season.
The 2023 version builds on experience gained last season, in which the team faced and overcame numerous challenges after a difficult start to the campaign. The progress made by dint of the sheer dedication and determination shown by all team members at Brackley and Brixworth helped to deliver stronger results from mid-season onwards, culminating in a one-two finish at the São Paulo Grand Prix.
The first tests with the new W14 E PERFORMANCE will take place between 23 and 25 February at the Bahrain International Circuit, which will also host the first Grand Prix of the new year a week later (3 - 5 March).
Mercedes-AMG Motorsport sends a strong line-up to the Rolex 24 At Daytona
The 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona was staged on the weekend of 26 - 29 January. The endurance race at Daytona International Speedway traditionally ushers in the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. The four Mercedes-AMG GT3s sent by Mercedes-AMG Motorsport to Florida were expected to be strong contenders in the GTD and GTD PRO classes.
In the GTD PRO, Team WeatherTech Racing fielded the number 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3, with the top-class driver quartet of Maro Engel (GER), Jules Gounon (AND), Daniel Juncadella (ESP), and Cooper MacNeil (USA) sharing the cockpit. No fewer than three Mercedes-AMG GT3s contested the GTD class, including last year’s third-placed Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports. The Customer Racing Team had Maximilian Götz (GER), Mikael Grenier (CAN), Kenton Koch (USA), and Mike Skeen (USA) at the wheel of the #32 car. Also in the Mercedes line-up were the WINWARD RACING trio of Indy Dontje (NED), Philip Ellis (SUI) and Russel Ward (USA) in the number 57 car, winners of the 2021 race. This time round, they were ably assisted by DTM runner-up Lucas Auer (AUT).
The fourth Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the legendary American oval circuit was entered by Team SunEnergy1 Racing by AKKODIS ASP. Reigning IGTC Pro-Am champion Kenny Habul (AUS) shared the cockpit of the #75 car with Axcil Jeffries (ZIM), Fabian Schiller, and Lucas Stolz (both GER).
The starting positions for the 24-hour race were decided during the Roar before the Rolex test event. The qualifying session on Sunday 22 January presented the teams with the opportunity to put themselves in a good starting position for the season opener. The Mercedes-AMG GT3s put on a strong performance during the qualifying session, with Team WeatherTech Racing and Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports both earning top spots in their respective classes.
Despite a strong showing in qualifying, the race was not without its challenges for the Mercedes-AMG GT3s. Team WeatherTech Racing experienced mechanical issues early on in the race, resulting in a DNF for the number 79 car. Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports also faced setbacks, with a spin and a pit stop penalty putting them out of contention for a podium finish.
However, the number 57 car of WINWARD RACING, piloted by Indy Dontje, Philip Ellis, Russel Ward, and Lucas Auer, managed to secure a podium finish in the GTD class, finishing in third place. The number 75 car of Team SunEnergy1 Racing by AKKODIS ASP also had a strong performance, finishing in sixth place in the GTD class.
In addition to the GT3 action, the supporting program at Daytona International Speedway also saw the start of the 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. A six-strong contingent of Mercedes-AMG GT4s competed in the GS class, with the number 57 car of Murillo Racing earning a third-place finish.
Finally, it was a mixed start to the 2023 motorsport season for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, but the team will no doubt be using the lessons learned at Daytona to improve their performance in the upcoming races. The next event on the IMSA calendar is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 20.