All set for the 2015 DTM season – the eight Mercedes-Benz works drivers are ready for the fresh challenge. Six of them contested the DTM last season for the brand with the three-pointed star, while Lucas Auer and Maximilian Götz are new to the team.
Both newcomers are firmly established in the world of motor racing with Mercedes‑Benz. During the past two years, 20-year-old Austrian Lucas Auer has successfully lined up for Prema Powerteam and Mücke Motorsport in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, utilising Mercedes power. He placed second in the 2014 Macau Grand Prix at the legendary Guia street circuit.
28-year-old Maximilian Götz is the perfect example of a driver successfully making the move up from Mercedes-AMG’s Customer Sport Programme to the DTM. He has driven a SLS AMG GT3 for the past four years. He joins the DTM this year as reigning Blancpain Sprint Series champion.
In all, there are two DTM champions and five DTM race winners in the Mercedes-Benz team of drivers. Apart from 2005 DTM champion Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta, who won in 2010, these are Robert Wickens, Christian Vietoris and Pascal Wehrlein. Mercedes junior Wehrlein is the youngest winner of a race in the history of the series after his victory at the Lausitzring in 2014. Daniel Juncadella, who will be contesting his third DTM season in 2015, completes the line-up. The Spaniard acted as a Formula 1 test driver at Force India-Mercedes last season and was reigning champion in both the Formula 3 Euro Series and in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship when he made the switch to the DTM in 2013.
The eight Mercedes-AMG C63 DTMs will be fielded by Mercedes-Benz DTM development partner HWA AG, by Berlin-based team Mücke Motorsport and by French newcomers to the DTM, ART Grand Prix. Gary Paffett has opted to tackle a fresh challenge at ART Grand Prix this coming season. Using experience gained in the course of eleven DTM seasons to date, the British driver will lead the new entrants to the DTM, as they build their team and get to know the vehicle.
The first weekend of the new DTM season gets under way on the weekend of May 1st-3rd with a home race for Mercedes-Benz at Hockenheim. 18 races in all feature on this year’s programme.
Paul Di Resta: “I’m looking forward to continuing my work with Mercedes‑Benz. I feel more confident, following the progress and restructuring over the past year. There is still a lot to be done. We will continue to do the maximum possible in order to achieve our goal of becoming DTM champions once again.”
Daniel Juncadella: “I’m really pleased to still be a part of the Mercedes-Benz family, especially since my first two years learning the ropes in the DTM were not all that easy for me. Now, I’m looking forward to notching up successes again, just like I did during my time in Formula 3. It was a great feeling to win Formula 3 races and the title with Mercedes power. I hope that our entire Mercedes-Benz team will have a strong season.”
Gary Paffett: “I’m very pleased about the move to ART and the fresh challenge it brings. For me, this is a great opportunity to bring my whole experience to bear on a new project and put my stamp on it. ART are a famous racing team and have achieved success in many top racing series. My goal in the DTM is to shape this outfit into a winning team. ART already have the ambition, the resources and the ability to achieve that in 2015. It will not be easy, but then it never is. Hopefully, we can be competitive from the very first race and keep up with the other Mercedes drivers thanks to a combination of their technical aptitude and my experience.”
Christian Vietoris: “I’m all fired up with motivation after the last two years which were not all that great for us. I think everyone is eager to mount an all‑out offensive now. As I’ve already said, we’ve had two tough years. I hope that we reached the low point last year and that we can now look to the future again. Personally, I think I’ve arrived in the DTM. I’ve now finished fourth in the overall standings twice in a row and was also best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver both times. Of course, I hope that we will have a strong package this year. I’m looking forward to joining the hunt for points once again with the team.”
Pascal Wehrlein: “I’m pleased to be starting my third DTM season with Mercedes-Benz, particularly in view of the fact that we’ve improved a lot since the middle of last year. It’s a real fun experience when you have a car capable of achieving a top-ten finish or maybe even a win at certain tracks. That’s why I enjoyed the DTM more and more last season. Of course, clinching my maiden victory was important, and I want to build on that this year. I firmly hope and believe that this year we will be more competitive than last. The whole team is working very hard, which is why I’m looking forward to the season. I will do everything I can to get as far forward as possible.”
Robert Wickens: “I’m all fired up for the 2015 campaign. Everyone at Mercedes‑Benz is highly motivated and keen to have a good season, especially in view of the way the 2014 season ended. We’ve all worked hard over the winter. We’re ready to go and will do everything we can to have a really strong 2015 season.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “The new DTM season promises to be extremely exciting. While having two races per weekend means a fresh challenge for all drivers and teams, it will also be a great experience for the fans. 100% more racing gets the thumbs-up and shows that we listen to our fans. As regards our choice of drivers, we’re going for continuity and fresh blood in the shape of Lucas and Max. After eleven years in the DTM, Gary has decided to take on a major challenge in building up our new team, ART Grand Prix. He will be able to directly influence the team’s development and mould the entire outfit. Gary is perfectly suited to this task with the experience gained from contesting 112 DTM races.
Five of our drivers have already won a DTM race during their careers. We want to tap into that success this year. Last season is over and done with. We have meticulously analysed our performance and learned our lessons. We began restructuring our DTM programme last year. We aim to continue that process in 2015. We cannot make any promises concerning performance. Instead, we must keep both feet on the ground, prepare for the new season and try to play to our strengths as best we can. We now have to devote our full attention to the season opener at Hockenheim.”
Source: Mercedes-Benz Motorsport / Picture: MBpassion.de