Ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher will not be lining up for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM during the 2013 season.
Schumacher will remain a member of the Mercedes-Benz family, however, when he assumes his management role at RSC Mücke Motorsport where he is tasked primarily with supporting and bringing on young DTM drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Daniel Juncadella. This latest step in Schumacher’s career after ending his involvement with the DTM as a driver was mutually agreed after Schumacher requested talks with Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff and Gerhard Ungar, Technical Director and Chief Executive Officer at HWA AG.
During the last five years, Germany’s third most successful Formula 1 driver with six grand prix wins to his name competed in 54 DTM races for Mercedes-Benz. In his new role, and drawing on his experience from over 20 years of motor racing, he will act in a supportive and advisory capacity to the young Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers.
German driver, Pascal Wehrlein, who is just 18-years-old, will take the wheel of the sixth DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé this coming season. His team-mate at RSC Mücke Motorsport will be Daniel Juncadella, current Formula 3 Euro Series runner-up. Wehrlein has already raced a Dallara-Mercedes for the Berlin-based team in Formula 3. Plus, the two young drivers know each other well from their time in Formula 3; Juncadella won last year’s Formula 3 Euro Series championship title with an eleven-point advantage on Wehrlein. Prior to his move to Formula 3, Wehrlein secured the Formula ADAC championship title in the 2011 season.
Mercedes-Benz juniors Roberto Merhi (21), Christian Vietoris (23) and Robert Wickens (24) will also be contesting the DTM this season alongside the two DTM rookies, Wehrlein and Juncadella. Reigning DTM champion and runner-up from 2005 Gary Paffett (31) completes the Mercedes-Benz DTM driver line-up. The experienced British driver will commence his tenth DTM season in 2013.
This season, with an average age of 23 years, Mercedes-Benz has the youngest team of drivers of all the three premium manufacturers competing in the world’s most popular touring car series. Aged just 18 years and 188 days when the season starts on 5th May 2013 in Hockenheim, Wehrlein will become the youngest driver ever to compete in the DTM. The last two Formula 3 Euro Series champions from the previous two years – Juncadella and Merhi – will likewise be on the grid for Mercedes-Benz. Wehrlein and Vietoris were runners-up in the junior series in 2012 and 2009 respectively.
Ralf Schumacher: “I’ve been thinking a great deal about my future during the last few weeks and have reached the conclusion that I am better able to support the extensive changes at Mercedes-Benz with regard to the DTM in a management role than at the wheel of a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. I had talks with Toto Wolff and Gerhard Ungar and asked to finish my current career as a racing driver and concentrate on this new position. I am very grateful for more than two decades in professional motor racing and the last five years with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM. We have plenty of young, up-and-coming talent in our squad of drivers and I am happy to make way for them so that I can concentrate fully on my new responsibilities in the management team at RSC Mücke Motorsport. This represents an exciting challenge for me, helping the best young drivers with my know-how and expertise, and hopefully seeing them on their way to a successful career in motor racing.”
Pascal Wehrlein: “It’s like a dream come true, my promotion to the DTM. What’s especially nice is that I will be making my DTM debut with RSC Mücke Motorsport. I know Peter Mücke’s and Ralf Schumacher’s team already from previous years when I first competed for the outfit in the Formula ADAC and then later in the Formula 3 Euro Series. Working together always went well and I can’t wait to get down to the business of setting up my new DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé for the season opener at Hockenheim with the guys from Mücke.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “We would love to be with Ralf Schumacher for his sixth DTM season. However, Ralf has informed us that, after careful consideration, he sees his future in management, which we fully support. Of course, it is a pity to lose a driver of his calibre, but we are really pleased that he will remain with us in his new role. Our driver line-up is certainly a valiant bunch, but they also patently represent a huge investment in motor racing’s future by Mercedes-Benz – these guys are stars in the making. In going this route, Ralf is taking on a very important, key role, using his experience to advise and assist our young drivers.”
Pascal Wehrlein is another promising young driver who perfectly fits our philosophy with regard to DTM drivers. We are consciously taking a different track with signing Pascal. He is one of five drivers who are all still very young, but we are confident that this new approach will benefit our brand. With an average age of 23 years, we may have the youngest team of drivers in the DTM, but so far, every one of them has proven skill in the world’s leading junior series. In 2012, Daniel Juncadella won the Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship; Roberto Merhi accomplished the same feat a year ago. In 2009, Christian Vietoris was second in the Formula 3 Euro Series. In 2011, Robert Wickens took the Formula Renault 3.5 championship title, and at the first attempt whilst still in his rookie year, Pascal Wehrlein was runner-up in the Formula 3 Euro Series. Bringing on young motor racing drivers has a long history at Mercedes-Benz and we are set to continue that tradition with this year’s young team of drivers.”