Marcel F?ssler has left Mercedes after four years with marque and will move to Opel for 2004. The 27-year old Swiss joined the DTM in 2000 with Mercedes and was Rookie of the Year, finishing fourth overall in the championship. He retained the position the next two years and in 2003 he moved up to third in the standings, with victory in Austria and a string of podium finishes.
The Swiss decided it was time for a change and will drive a new Opel next season, the Vectra GTS that the manufacturer is introducing. Manuel Reuter and Peter Dumbreck are also confirmed at Opel.
"I owe very much to Mercedes Benz, AMG and the HWA team," said F?ssler. "They made my entry to DTM in 2000 possible and since then have always provided me with excellent equipment. I can look back on four sucessful years with Mercedes Benz during which I not only learnt very much but was also very happy."
"After careful consideration I decided to accept the offer from Opel and to have a new challenge in the DTM. A change such as this is a regular thing in professional sport and I am looking forward to working with Opel. I would like to thank Mercedes Benz, AMG and HWA for releasing me from my contract, which would have run to the end of this year, so I can straight away concentrate on my job with the new team."
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug said: "Accepting Opel’s offer was Marcel's decision. We have had four successful years together in the DTM, during which Marcel has regularly been one of the top five drivers. From my point of view, Opel will be stronger with him."
"I thank Marcel for his effort and his successes, he has been an excellent representative of our brand. We will remain friends with Marcel after his move as well and the door to us remains open for him. On behalf of our entire DTM racing team, I wish him the best of luck for 2004 with his new Opel team."
Opel boss Volker Strycek believes F?ssler will strengthen the team: "Marcel F?ssler is one of the best drivers in the DTM. He is highly experienced, sensible as well as being a strong fighter, and he is capable of winning races. We're convinced that Marcel will be a tremendous augmentation of our team."
Dumbreck was previously a Mercedes driver and was relegated to a year old chassis in 2002. After struggling for results, he moved to Opel, and a 2003 spec car, for this season. Mercedes has dropped Thomas J?ger and the German tested for Opel earlier this month, along with several other drivers participating in the manufacturer's winter assessment programme.