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Wehrlein: Losing F1 style key to DTM title hopes

Pascal Wehrlein believes the key to fighting for the DTM title on his series return is to stop driving his Mercedes like he did his Sauber Formula 1 car.

Podium: third place Pascal Wehrlein, Mercedes-AMG Team HWA

Wehrlein's initial three-year DTM stint ended with the 2015 title for Mercedes, before he spent two seasons in F1 with Manor and then Sauber.

After being dropped by Sauber in favour of Charles Leclerc for 2018, Wehrlein was brought back to the DTM by Mercedes and opened his year with two top-six finishes at Hockenheim before scoring a podium at the Lausitzring last weekend.

A number of regulation changes, including the loss of tyre warmers at the start of 2017 and the introduction of spec parts and less downforce, have brought the cars closer together than in Wehrlein’s last stint in the series.

But he says the main challenge in reacclimatising to the DTM has been shedding his F1 driving style.

“After two years away you forget what was happening before,” said Wehrlein.

“It’s not really the difference between the cars from 2015-2018, it’s more the difference between the F1 car and the DTM car which is the limiting factor at the moment.

“I know when I’m 100 percent comfortable in the car, I’m a championship contender.

“There are still many things I need to improve and adapt, but I don’t want to really think about the championship. We need to make some more progress and understand everything very quick.”

Wehrlein added that the tyres are the biggest area of revolution he has noticed in the DTM.

“I nearly got my first pole position since coming back at Lausitz [where he qualified second in race two], and in the race I just struggled with tyre degradation,” added the 23-year-old.

“That’s the main difference for me since 2015 to understand the tyres, it’s a different compound. It’s faster for one or two laps but then the degradation is quite high.”

Di Resta: Wehrlein can fight for title

Ex-Force India and Williams F1 driver Paul di Resta believes the consistency shown by Wehrlein on his DTM return means he’s a "threat" for the title.

Like Wehrlein, di Resta moved into F1 as a DTM champion - joining Force India in 2011 - before returning to the DTM in 2014 after losing his place on the grand prix grid.

“Already he’s a real threat within the team and a real threat to the other manufacturers as well,” di Resta said of Wehrlein.

“It’s always hard to come back and adapt your driving style, but Pascal is young and still keen to show what he can do."

Wehrlein is now third in the DTM standings, 33 points behind leader Timo Glock. Gary Paffett lies second, just one point behind Glock.

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