72,000 Visitors Celebrate Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-Benz Drivers during the 2008 Stars & Cars Day
Stuttgart -- 72.000 Daimler employees and motor sport fans celebrated Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton (23) and his Mercedes-Benz driver colleagues from Formula 1 and DTM during today's Stars & Cars Day in Stuttgart, a very special motor sport action day around the museum and the Stuttgart Mercedes-Benz subsidiary; over 10,000 more than last year.
The Stars & Cars Day is the traditional final event of the Mercedes-Benz motor sport season and was held for the third time around the Mercedes-Benz World outside the main plant. It was staged for the 14th time in total since 1994; last year, a crowd of 60,000 attended the event. Lewis Hamilton was the special guest and was enthusiastic about the event. He welcomed the many thousands visitors with "Guten Morgen Stuttgart, alles klar?"(good morning, Stuttgart, everything ok?) and thanked "his friends", how he called the Mercedes employees and fans at „Stars & Cars".
Two other big shots today retired from motor racing: David Coulthard and Bernd Schneider. Between 1996 and 2004, David had completed 150 Grands Prix for the McLaren Mercedes partnership; he won 12 of them and was the 2001 runner-up in the Formula 1 World Championship. He finished his career with Red Bull. Bernd looks back to 227 DTM and ITC races with Mercedes-Benz between 1991 and 2008. He won 43 of them and clinched five DTM championship titles as well as one each in the ITC and the FIA GT Series. Bernd drove his last race on 26th October and will now embark on a second career at Mercedes-AMG as a brand ambassador, instructor and test driver for the high-performance brand within Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The spectators of the event, among them World Boxing Champion Vitali Klitschko, experienced a packed and interesting programme with many demonstration laps with up-to-date and historic race cars, with Mercedes-Benz production cars from the present and the past and as highlights pit stop competitions of mechanics of Formula 1, DTM and historic cars. Tributes to the successful drivers by Daimler CEO and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dr. Dieter Zetsche as well as interview and autograph sessions, an entertaining programme with live music and a special programme for children rounded off the event. The visitors honoured this event with constantly growing enthusiasm from the beginning at 10am until the end of the event at 4pm.
Lewis Hamilton, who became World Champion in the Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday, was enthusiastic about this season and the Stars & Cars day: "In 2007, I was able to celebrate together with many thousands of spectators being runner-up after only one year in Formula 1. Today, one year later, and with 72,000 visitors, we celebrate the World Championship. It's absolutely crazy how many people came today and I hope everybody had fun -- I had it, that's for sure."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "Every year, Stars & Cars is the highlight and end of our motor sport season -- this year with more than 70,000 vistors during the entire day. In the course of the season, we won 11 out of 29 races in Formula 1 and DTM, and Lewis became the youngest Formula 1 World Champion in history. In the DTM, we won the Teams' Championship and our youngster Paul Di Resta had the chance to win the title until the final race. Mercedes-Benz and our entire Motorsport team thank their colleagues and those interested in racing for their support. Certainly, our team will now not slow down at all and our preparations for the 2009 season are already running at full speed. Today, I want to thank particularly the organisation team and my marketing and media colleagues who made this event possible -- this team also worked like world champions and at the end of a season they organised and realised within 14 days the DTM finale in Hockenheim, the Formula 1 World Championship finale in Sao Paulo and now this excellent Stars & Cars event brilliantly."