Big crowd at the Mercedes-AMG teams’ young driver test in Valencia: Which team Luca Engstler drove for, how he performed and what the mode looked like
Big surprise at the traditional Mercedes-AMG Young Driver Test in Valencia, which attracted many drivers this year: DTM driver Luca Engstler was among the more than 20 participants on Friday. The 23-year-old son of touring car legend Franz Engstler has been part of the Audi squad for the past two years, which will be disbanded at the end of the season.
After driving an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II for the Engstler Motorsport family team in the DTM this year, Engstler sat in the Landgraf team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the 2023 junior test, which will be held in a new format. The youngster is obviously hoping for a place in the Mercedes-AMG squad.
In addition to the “Mamba” team from the DTM, the racing teams Winward, HRT, GetSpeed and the CV Performance Group team, which is primarily known from the GT4 sector, were also on hand to test drivers aged between 17 and 25 in perfect conditions and temperatures of just over 20°C.
Only Lorenzo Ferrari faster in qualifying simulation
What did the Mercedes-AMG mode look like for the test? There was a shootout in the morning from 9am, in which the drivers were split into two groups. In two 15-minute sessions, each driver received a fresh set of tires and had to simulate a qualifying session.
The top 10 from each group made it through to the next round, with the respective top 5 also receiving a fresh set of Pirelli tires. They were then able to use these in the second part of the Young Driver Test in the afternoon, in which a long run simulation was carried out
Engstler did particularly well in the qualifying shootout and set the second-fastest lap time behind the GT3-experienced Italian Lorenzo Ferrari. In the end, he was 0.025 seconds down on Ferrari, who was in the Winward Mercedes and had already competed for the team in the GT World Challenge Europe in 2022, sharing the car with Lucas Auer.
Formula E driver Camara strongest in long runs
In the afternoon, it was all about consistency. And according to information from Motorsport-Total.com, Formula E-experienced Brazilian Sergio Sette Camara stood out in particular. The 25-year-old impressed with good tire management in the Winward Mercedes. But the 21-year-old Ferrari was also strong once again.
It was also the Italian with the illustrious name who proved to be the strongest driver in the end in Mercedes-AMG mode. For the overall standings of the Young Driver Test, the fastest time from the shootout was added to the average lap time of the long run – and then divided by two. The resulting time is then the mixture of both disciplines
Place for Engstler in the Mercedes-AMG squad?
It will now be interesting to see which drivers have been able to recommend themselves with their performance for a possible DTM cockpit with one of the Mercedes-AMG teams. The Young Driver Test has always been a good reference point in this respect, as drivers such as David Schumacher and Jusuf Owega first appeared in the Young Driver Test before going on to drive in the DTM the following year.
And there is currently potential for newcomers in the Mercedes-AMG squad: Raffaele Marciello, who has been linked with BMW, and Daniel Juncadella, who appears to be on his way to Corvette, are two long-serving performance drivers – the top category in the AMG squad – who are going overboard.
And Engstler has already shown what he is capable of with top times in the Scherer-PHX-Audi in endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this year.