Grand Finale with Packed Grandstands
Two title fights of the 2005 DTM will be decided in the final race at Hockenheim this coming weekend. In the Drivers' Championship, Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes) who has won five out the ten races so far leads with 78 points ahead of Mattias Ekström (Audi) with 69. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Mercedes-Benz leads with 180 points ahead of Audi with 168.
History: In the 18 years of DTM up to now, the title fight has been decided only in the final race seven times. Only once the pursuer won the championship: In 1991, Mercedes driver Klaus Ludwig was the leader prior to Hockenheim with eight points; however, in the wet race the four-wheel-drive Audis were faster and Frank Biela clinched the title.
Statistics: The season's final race will be Gary Paffett's 30th DTM race (including the invitational at Shanghai 2004). The British driver won nine out of his 29 races so far; he started from pole position six times and posted the fastest lap of the race on six occasions. Title contender Mattias Ekström achieved seven wins, seven pole positions and two fastest race laps within the same period of time.
Since his first race as factory driver with the AMG-Mercedes C-Class in the 2004 season opener, Paffett missed the points positions (top-eight) only once - with 13th place at Estoril 2004. Once he had been disqualified - at the Lausitzring 2004, after he had finished the race in first position.
Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes) will start his 200th DTM race at Hockenheim The 41-year-old driver with the most DTM victories (38) has won at Hockenheim 11 times. His last win was in the 2004 season final.
Spectators: One week before the race at Hockenheim, already almost 70,000 tickets have been sold. More than 16.000 Mercedes employees, fans and friends of the company bought tickets for the Mercedes grandstand and the Motodrom. The organisers built additional grandstands to seat the expected crowd. One year ago, 133,000 attended the event. The record crowd for a DTM race was established at Nuremberg's Norisring this year with 143,000.
Facts and figures: 55 races of the DTM and ITC have been held at Hockenheim since 1984. Mercedes-Benz drivers won 22 of them. Opel achieved seven victories here and Audi five. Mercedes-Benz drivers won ten out of the new DTM's 13 races at Hockenheim (in 2000, there were two events with two races each) and the last six in a row since the 2002 season final.
Gary Paffett (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes, winner of the last race at Istanbul):
"Winning the race at Istanbul ahead of three of my team mates was a great experience for all of us. Of course I know that our competition will give it their all to turn the tables; however, in our home race we will do the same. I'm looking forward to it."
Mika Häkkinen (Sport Edition AMG-Mercedes, second at Istanbul):
"I'm delighted about my first DTM season and I learnt so much that I want to be at the front at Hockenheim."
Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, third at Istanbul):
"It's always a lot of fun to drive at Hockenheim. The atmosphere is great and the many Mercedes fans support us as much as possible. I like the circuit and I will fight hard for a positive end of my season, hopefully as good as last year when I won the race."
Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes, fourth at Istanbul):
"The Hockenheim circuit suits me. I posted the fastest lap of the race here in my DTM debut in April. I want to finish on the podium."
Jean Alesi (AMG-Mercedes, seventh at Istanbul after additional pit stop):
"I participated in seven DTM races at Hockenheim and won twice. This is not a bad record; however, I want to improve it anyway. I know about my many fans here and I want to end the season as well as I began - with a race win."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"For the eighth time in 18 years, the title will be decided in the last race. The last time this was the case was two years ago, when Mercedes drivers Bernd Schneider and Christijan Albers fought for the championship."
"After we have won the team championship at Istanbul we also want to clinch the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' titles. Most of all, we want to present the spectators in the packed stadium great and fair sport with the best driver winning."