Mercedes-Benz in the 2005 DTM: Seven Drivers from Five Nations
Mika H?kkinen, 36, had retired from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season after 162 Grands Prix. During his 10-year career, he had won 20 Grands Prix with West McLaren Mercedes, achieved 26 Pole Positions, 25 fastest race laps and scored 420 World Championship points. After a successful test with the AMG-Mercedes C-Class in October 2004, he decided to make a comeback.
Within the HWA team, H?kkinen drives alongside his former F1 colleague Jean Alesi (40), Bernd Schneider (40), and the young and ambitious talents Gary Paffett (23) and Jamie Green (22). Paffett was the 2002 German Formula 3 Champion, participated in eight races in 2003 with a year-old car and moved up to the HWA team last year. He won three races and ended the Championship runner-up. Green clinched the 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series title after winning seven races in his Dallara Mercedes.
The English driver will race a new C-Class which will be prepared by HWA. During the race weekends, Persson Motorsport will run the car. This team will also enter Bruno Spengler's (21) 2004 model. A second 2004 C-Class will be driven by Stefan M?cke (23) and entered by his father Peter's team M?cke Motorsport, which will start in the DTM as a private team. The project will be financed by sponsors. Car and a spare part kit will be leased from Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.
Bruno Spengler (21) will have his DTM debut at Hockenheim on 17 April. The Alsace-born driver partici-pated in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2003 (Team ASM) and 2004 (M?cke Motorsport) scoring his best result with third place at Magny-Cours last year.
The new AMG-Mercedes C-Class has been tested at Estoril, Portugal in the third week of January for the first time. The car has been adjusted to the new aerodynamic DTM rules. A Gurney Flap at the rear wing is now mandatory for every car.
"The more I drive, the more I learn. I'm already really comfortable with last year's car and I'm sure, I will further improve with the new AMG-Mercedes C-Class. The co-operation within the HWA team is great and I look forward to an exciting sea-son."
"Although the touring car is considera-bly heavier than my last year's Formula 3 car, I posted good lap times from the beginning. I'm already looking forward to a lot of good fights this year."
"After my move to the DTM became known, the interest in Canada in the championship and in me has grown. I hope for good results to justify the confidence of my fans and of Mercedes-Benz Mo-torsport."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Mo-torsport:
"The DTM will be even more international in 2005. The new season's field will include drivers from nine nations. In our team alone there are seven drivers from five different countries. With the races at the Grand Prix circuits at Istanbul and Spa, as well as at the street circuit in Avignon, three new, spectacular and crowd-pulling venues will add to the calendar."
"With regards to the sport, the 2005 DTM will certainly be the biggest challenge for drivers and teams since the series exist. I expect about a dozen combinations of drivers and cars capable of winning, and accordingly very close gaps within the field and exciting races."
"Of course, we are all looking forward to our new entry named Mika who is everything but unknown. He is not only two-time World Champion but also still one of the most popular race drivers in the world, and he is an ambassador for our brand as well as for motor sport in general, particularly in Germany. However, his team mates and especially the competing manufac-turers' drivers won't care much about it."
"For them, Mika is one of the many rivals on the track. He will not get a bonus for being World Champion from Bernd, Jean, Gary, Jamie, Bruno and Stefan -- for all of them it will be a great pleasure to beat him. The DTM is not an easy task, also not for a two-time World Champion in car racing, but Mika knows what he wants and, more over, he knows what he is capable of."