Hockenheimring: Mercedes preview

DTM, 12th and 13th April 2008: Season opener in Hockenheim Anniversary Season Starts in Hockenheim * The 2008 DTM season opener in Hockenheim this coming weekend will be the 90th race of the series since 2000. After another nine races in...

DTM, 12th and 13th April 2008: Season opener in Hockenheim
Anniversary Season Starts in Hockenheim

* The 2008 DTM season opener in Hockenheim this coming weekend will be the 90th race of the series since 2000. After another nine races in six countries, the season finale on 26th October 2008, which will also take place in Hockenheim, will be the championship's 100th race since its re-launch in 2000.

* New in the Mercedes-Benz driver team for the 2008 DTM are Ralf Schumacher (32) with the 2007 Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class and Maro Engel (22) with the 2007 JungeSterne AMG Mercedes C-Class.

* Drivers for the HWA works team are: Bernd Schneider, 43 (Genuine Parts AMG Mercedes C-Class), five-time DTM Champion and winner of 42 DTM/ITC races; Bruno Spengler, 24 (Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Class), DTM runner-up in 2006 and 2007; Jamie Green, 25 (Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class), winner of the last two races of the 2007 season; Paul di Resta, 21 (AMG Mercedes C-Class), 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series Champion, achieved four podium finishes and fifth place overall in his rookie Season in the 2007 DTM with a 2005 C-Class. Di Resta is a newcomer in the HWA team and, like his three team mates, he will race the 2008 AMG Mercedes C-Class.

* Gary Paffett, 27 (stern AMG Mercedes C-Class), 2005 DTM champion and Formula 1 test driver for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Mathias Lauda, 27 (Pixum AMG Mercedes C-Class) and Susie Stoddart, 25 (TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes C-Class) will race last year's models.

* One week prior to the event, more than 39,000 tickets have been sold, as many as a year ago at the same time. In addition, the spectators bought almost 20,000 paddock tickets.

Mercedes-Benz drivers won 141 (about 47 per cent) out of the 300 races so far against the competition of Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Ford and Opel, participating in the last 20 years. Bernd Schneider won 42 races; he is the DTM record holder, clinching five DTM championship titles, which he all achieved with Mercedes-Benz. 22 drivers won DTM or ITC races for Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes-Benz won on 29 out of the 32 race circuits used by DTM and ITC since 1988. Most of these victories Mercedes-Benz drivers took on the traditional circuits Nurburgring (28) and Hockenheim (26).

New event schedule: In this season, there will be no more a warm-up on Sunday mornings. It will be replaced by a ten-minute session short before the race, when the drivers will have the chance for a final check of their cars. In addition, there will be another ten minutes for so-called information laps; however, then the drivers have to use the pit lane slowly instead of the front straight.

The International Touring Car Championship (ITC) was held parallel to the DTM in 1995 and as its successor in 1996. - Since 2001, there has been only one race per event.

The 2008 season opener will be the 61st DTM/ITC race in Hockenheim since 1984. Mercedes-Benz drivers won 26 of these races; Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG Mercedes) took the most recent victory for Mercedes-Benz winning the 2007 season finale in October one year ago. Mercedes-Benz drivers won ten out of the last 11 races in Hockenheim.

What drivers and motorsportchief say:

Bruno Spengler, start number 3 (2008 Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Class): "My target is clear: After finishing runner-up twice in 2006 and 2007, I want to win the title this year. I will fight for it from the very first lap in Hockenheim."

Paul di Resta, start number 4 (2008 AMG Mercedes C-Class): "Four podium finishes and fifth place overall last year were a reasonable balance of my rookie season. I want to justify my promotion to the HWA team with more good results and hopefully I will achieve the first one already in Hockenheim."

Jamie Green, start number 5 (2008 Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class): "In my six races at Hockenheim so far, I started from pole position twice, posted four fastest race laps and took one victory -- in the 2007 season finale in October 2007. I like the circuit and that's a good basis to repeat my win from last race here."

Bernd Schneider, start number 6 (2008 Genuine Parts AMG Mercedes C-Class): "I want to fight for the title and preferably I will lay the foundations for it already in Hockenheim. I did a lot of training for an optimum preparation. For me and my team mates, racing for Mercedes-Benz means total commitment to give it our all. I really hope that at the end of the year the title will be back at Mercedes and that I as a driver can contribute significantly to that."

Gary Paffett, start number 7 (2007 stern AMG Mercedes C-Class): "Four years ago, I won my first DTM race in Hockenheim; two and a half years ago I won the 2005 DTM Championship title here. This is my best motivation for an optimum start to the new season."

Mathias Lauda, start number 8 (2007 Pixum AMG Mercedes C-Class 2007): "Last year, I scored points twice, this season I want more. Hockenheim will be the first of 11 opportunities."

Ralf Schumacher, start number 11 (2007 Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class): "Following my many test kilometres during the winter I am really keen on my first DTM race. I got acquainted with the DTM Mercedes C-Class intensively and I am well prepared for the new season. Now I want to see where I am compared to the competition."

Maro Engel, start number 12 (2007 JungeSterne AMG Mercedes C-Class): "I am really looking forward to my first DTM season. The DTM is motor racing at the highest level. I will probably have to learn a lot to establish myself in the series. During my first season, I want to improve continuously and to score points in as many races as possible."

Susie Stoddart, start number 16 (2007 TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes C-Class): "A circuit I like. About two years ago, I began my DTM career in Hockenheim with 10th place. This time, my target is my first point in the championship -- that would be the perfect start of the season."

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "The new season will start where the previous one ended, traditionally in Hockenheim. After our jubilee with a win in the 300th DTM race of Mercedes-Benz last October, such a result is our target also for the 301st start. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has started racing in this series 20 years ago; on the occasion of '20 years after' we will therefore present successful DTM Mercedes cars of this period of time as well as many more attractions."

-credit: mercedes

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Series DTM
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Bernd Schneider , Norbert Haug , Bruno Spengler , Gary Paffett , Paul di Resta , Mathias Lauda , Maro Engel , Jamie Green