Hockenheim II: Mercedes preview

Record Crowd for a Record Champion Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class) has clinched the 2006 DTM Championship title already in the last race at Le Mans. He leads the table with 66 points; Bruno Spengler (DaimlerChrysler Bank ...

Record Crowd for a Record Champion

Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class) has clinched the 2006 DTM Championship title already in the last race at Le Mans. He leads the table with 66 points; Bruno Spengler (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class) is second overall with 53 points ahead of Audi's Tom Kristensen with 50 points.

During the advance sale, 63.000 tickets have been sold for this coming weekend's season finale at Hockenheim. The Mercedes grandstand with a capacity of 6,521 seats is sold out already for several weeks. Last year's 147,000 spectators during the weekend meant a record attendance for a DTM event.

Statistics: Since his first race in the championship in 1987, Bernd Schneider has started in Hockenheim 38 times. He won 13 races here and the last two of them in a row -- last year's season finale and this year's first race. He achieved an additional six podium positions, which means that he statistically has ended up on the podium in every second of his races at Hockenheim.

In every year Schneider has won the season opener at Hockenheim, he also clinched the championship: 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006. In 1993, he also won both races at Hockenheim in April; however, it had been already the second event of that season. In 1995, 2000 and 2001 he came to the season finale already as the new champion. In 2003, the title has been decided in the last race between Schneider and his team mate Christijan Albers.

57 DTM and ITC races have been staged at Hockenheim since 1984. Mercedes-Benz drivers have won 24 of them; five victories went to Audi. Mercedes-Benz drivers won 12 out of the 15 DTM races here since 2000 (two events with two races each in the first year) and they clinched all eight consecutive race wins since the 2002 season finale.

The new weight distribution: 2006 AMG-Mercedes C-Class (Schneider, Green, Häkkinen, Spengler): 1,075 kilograms; 2006 Audi A4 DTM: 1,065 kilograms; 2005 AMG-Mercedes C-Class of Jean Alesi, Daniel la Rosa, Alexandros Margaritis, Stefan Mücke: 1,060 kilograms; 2004 cars like the AMG-Mercedes C-Class of Mathias Lauda and Susie Stoddart: 1,020 kilograms.

Comments from the Mercedes-Benz drivers, in the order of the result from the Le Mans race:

Bruno Spengler, start number 9 (DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class, winner): "I like the Hockenheimring. I want to fight for the runner-up position in the championship and to maintain my three-point advantage ahead of Tom Kristensen until the finish."

Mika Häkkinen, start number 8 (AMG-Mercedes C-Class, second): "I do not believe we are already at the last race of the season, it went so quickly. The results on paper don't give the real credit to the very good job my team did this year, and I would like to thank all of them for their hard work, unfortunately some bad luck has hampered our potential to finish higher in the Championship. My second place finish in Le Mans and the fastest race lap show that when everything goes without any snags, we have the speed and can achieve podiums. Now we will work even harder this weekend in order to reach my main target, the win!"

Bernd Schneider, start number 2 (Vodafone AMG-Mercedes C-Class, fifth): "My last victory at Hockenheim was my 13th there; however, this figure obviously was my lucky number as that win was the foundation stone for my fifth championship title. The atmosphere at the season finale is always something special and it would be great to win this race for the third time in a row."

Jamie Green, start number 3 (Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes C-Class, sixth): "Four pole positions in this season so far demonstrate that I'm among the fastest in the field; however, I still miss my first race win. I will give it my all to achieve it at Hockenheim."

Alexandros Margaritis, start number 11 (EasyRent AMG-Mercedes C-Class, seventh): "With the 2005 C-Class I scored points in five races this year. It is my target for Hockenheim to end up in the top-eight again. Our team has the capabilities for this result; we have proved it a couple of times this season."

Jean Alesi, start number 10 (stern AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 11th): "I have good memories of Hockenheim. Here I clinched my first podium in my first ever DTM race, and here I took two of my four DTM victories. In front of the many Mercedes-Benz employees and fans there I want to end the season with a positive result."

Susie Stoddart, start number 22 (AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 13th): "Finally we will race on a track again I already know. At Hockenheim, I started my DTM career with a 10th place. To move up two positions in the final and to score the first point with a 2004 car -- that would be great."

Stefan Mücke, start number 17 (TV Spielfilm AMG-Mercedes C-Class, 15th): "I scored points on two occasions so far this season and I want to repeat a similar result in the finale at Hockenheim."

Daniel la Rosa, start number 18 (TrekStor AMG-Mercedes C-Class, retired due to power steering failure): "The results in my first DTM season have shown a positive trend. Unfortunately, a technical problem prevented another finish in the points at Le Mans. Now I want to score points at Hockenheim -- as a reference for next year."

Mathias Lauda, start number 21 (Second Hand AMG-Mercedes C-Class, was involved in a collision after the start without his own fault and retired): "I achieved 11th place in my DTM debut at Hockenheim in April and that was not a bad start. If I manage to end up in the top-ten in the final race I would be quite satisfied with my first season."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "The DTM finale at Hockenheim has become a real classic and popular with the spectators. It will be sold out this time; only within our organisation we have sold 12,000 tickets to customers and employees, 6,500 of them for the traditionally sold-out Mercedes grandstand, where we will again offer a comprehensive, high-quality and interesting programme. Part of this programme will be driving and co-driving opportunities for which we expect clearly over 6,000 participants during the weekend.

Although the championship has already been decided, it will be everything but an exhibition race on track, because the Hockenheim event in front of a record crowd has always been a battle prestige. Who does not want to win in front of sold-out grandstands? Despite our positive Hockenheim record, it is not going to be easy for us; Audi has planned a lot and wants to end the season on a high. However, after Bernd Schneider's title win ambition and concentration in our team have further intensified: we will certainly not be any more easily beaten at Hockenheim than in any of the other races so far."

-credit: mercedes

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Series DTM
Drivers Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Tom Kristensen , Bernd Schneider , Christijan Albers , Norbert Haug , Bruno Spengler , Alexandros Margaritis , Mathias Lauda , Stefan Mücke , Daniel la Rosa , Jamie Green