Roberto Merhi (20 years old, Spain, Prema Powerteam) is the new Formula 3 Euro Series champion. The Spanish driver clinched the title during the penultimate race weekend of the season in Valencia and, as an additional reward, has been invited to test for DTM at the wheels of the new AMG Mercedes C-Coupé. After 24 races out of 27 this season, Merhi achieved nine wins, seven pole positions and 17 podium finishes, driving a car powered by the Mercedes-Benz Formula 3 engine.
Promoting young racing talent is a long-standing tradition at Mercedes-Benz. Since the Formula 3 Euro Series was first staged in 2003, drivers powered by Mercedes-Benz engines have won almost 80 percent of all races (145 victories out of 182, of which 110 were one-two finishes) and seven out of nine drivers’ championship titles. In the same period, 13 drivers managed to make the step up to Formula One, having served their apprenticeship in Formula 3 with Mercedes-Benz power. One third of the 2011 F1 starting grid learned their trade in Formula 3 with a Mercedes-Benz engine, including world champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, 2010 DTM champion Paul Di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi, Sébastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna.
Similar successes have been achieved in other top racing series by former members of the Mercedes-Benz junior development programme. Of the nine Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers in the 2011 season, five started out in Formula 3 driving a Mercedes-Benz powered car: Jamie Green (2004 Formula 3 Euro Series champion), Bruno Spengler, Maro Engel, Christian Vietoris and Renger van der Zande.
The 2012 DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé is the successor to the AMG Mercedes C-Class, which is the most successful vehicle in the 27-year history of DTM, having taken 84 victories from 157 races and five drivers’ championship titles. The new car is based on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé which had its world premiere in summer 2011 and offers a new, improved safety concept with optimised carbon-fibre monocoque, roll cage and crash structures. Development, design and construction of the vehicle began in June 2010 at HWA AG, and the first test drives took place in September 2011 at the Lausitzring with Gary Paffett at the wheel.
Roberto Merhi: “Being asked to test for DTM in the new AMG Mercedes C-Coupé is the icing on the cake after winning the Formula 3 Euro Series championship title. It’s a great honour for me to follow in the footsteps of such successful drivers as Lewis Hamilton, Jamie Green and Paul Di Resta, who all won the Formula 3 Euro Series title with Mercedes-Benz in recent years and then went on to compete in Formula One or DTM. I would like to say a very big thank you to Mercedes-Benz for their support. I would not be where I am today, but for the Mercedes Young Driver Programme, which has enjoyed a terrific amount of success for a number of years. I’m going to push as hard as I can to justify the confidence placed in me and my dream is to remain in the Mercedes driver line up.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “Roberto Merhi is an exceptional talent, and his title win in the Formula 3 Euro Series 2011 will be an important milestone in the international racing career he has ahead of him. Mercedes-Benz Motorsport has overseen his development to date in the same way that we brought on the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Paul Di Resta, Jamie Green, Bruno Spengler, Christian Vietoris and Renger van der Zande, to name just a few of the drivers who have since gone on to even greater things in Formula One and DTM after starting out with Mercedes in Formula 3. Seven championship titles out of a possible nine since the Formula 3 Euro Series was first staged in 2003 clearly demonstrate that our development programme for young talent is founded on a system that leads to success – and ultimately to the Formula One world championship, as in the case of Lewis Hamilton driving a McLaren-Mercedes in 2008, or to the DTM title, which Paul Di Resta won last year before graduating to Formula One. We will continue to work with Roberto Merhi and his test in the next-generation DTM C-Coupé is a further step in his career. Congratulations, Roberto, on a first-class season. And congratulations also to our partner team Prema. Without perfect teamwork in Formula 3, there can be no perfect results. In 2011, Roberto Merhi and Prema delivered these in abundance – and in convincing style.”
Source: Daimler AG