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DTM Moscow

Mercedes: Mortara breakthrough "a question of time"

Mercedes DTM boss Ulrich Fritz says it is “just a question of time” before marquee signing Edoardo Mortara finds consistent form with the Silver Arrows.

Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM, Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A5 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM
Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA, Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM

Mortara, 30, was a high-profile addition to Mercedes' DTM line-up for 2017 after six seasons with Audi, the last of which saw him score five wins and narrowly miss out on the title to BMW's Marco Wittmann.

However, Mortara's start to life at Mercedes has been largely inconspicuous as the Italian sits 13th in the standings four rounds into the year, having himself admitted that the manufacturer switch is proving “a lot more difficult than I thought”.

Asked about Mortara's frustrations, Fritz told Motorsport.com: “I think he gets all the support he can get from our engineers, from our team, from the mechanics - it's just a question of time, he needs to get used to it.

“There were other drivers, like Jamie Green, [he] swapped from Mercedes to Audi and he also struggled the first one or two years.

“We knew it wouldn't be that easy. Of course we would have hoped [Mortara's transition] would be quicker, but I think DTM is such a close sport, everything needs to fit together.

“And yeah, you have to basically start from scratch, that's what he's doing. I think he's incredibly motivated and that's a good basis for everything.”

'Running out of time'

Despite having scored his first podium with Mercedes last time out at the Norisring, Mortara himself admitted he wasn't yet “in perfect harmony” with the team and the car.

He told Motorsport.com: “We are moving for sure forwards because we pretty much know what we need to improve, but it's taking some time.

“Unfortunately, you don't have so much time in motorsport, so we're running a bit out of time. Now we already did four weekends, we probably need still some more, so it's difficult.

“You need to drive [Mercedes and Audi] in different ways in order to be fast. So I was coming here from an Audi, let's say, car set-up point of view and I sort of mastered a certain way of driving that car, that is obviously not working at all with this one.

“So now I need to change my driving style and driving techniques in order to adapt to this car, and it's taking obviously a little bit of time,.

“It's for sure different but Mercedes proved to have a very competitive car so it's up to me now to try to adapt.”

Asked why he felt he was “running out of time” in what could be viewed as a transitional year, Mortara said: “Obviously, you know, it's not fun to run at the back.

"You want to run as quickly as you can, at the front positions, and it's clear at the moment that it's not really the case. During the races it's okay but in qualifying I cannot really find the confidence to put the car in front.

“And, yes, transitional years happen and I'm perfectly aware of that, but we need to push in order to have this transition to happen as smooth as we can and as quick as we can.”

In regards to his targets for the rest of the year, Mortara insisted that getting on a “competitive” level was more important to him than where he will eventually end up in the standings.

“I don't think that I will challenge for the title,” said the Italian, who is currently 49 points behind championship leader and former Audi squadmate Mattias Ekstrom.

“I've been many times in the top five [overall], I've been vice champion last year, almost winning it, so the only result that will make me happy in the DTM now is to win the championship.

“All other places than that, you know, for me are not really important. I'm going for the victory, I think this year realistically it's difficult.

"You never know, and until you don't have a mathematical chance you should push, but I'm more pushing to be competitive.”

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