Mercedes drivers expect revised aerodynamic regulations to boost the manufacturer’s prospects in the DTM this year, after a disappointing 2017 season.
Mercedes slipped away from the title fight through 2017, its chances hampered by the removal of performance weights, with sixth-placed Lucas Auer its highest-ranked driver in the final standings.
DTM has moved to reduce downforce by around a third this season, which includes a reduction in both number and size of the front aero flicks and the removal of the side endplate, among other alterations.
As a result, DTM stalwart Gary Paffett says Mercedes’ mood has been lifted heading into the marque’s final year in the series.
“Over the past five years Audi has had better aerodynamics,” the 2005 champion told Motorsport.com. "Every year you could only be amazed when they presented their design.
"The details of the Audi cars were always incredible. It costs a lot of money to be so unbelievable – and a lot of time. Compensating for the aerodynamics race is the best thing that could have happened to the series.
“We feel that BMW has the better engine - which is logical because it's the latest model. Each team is a little different. But I think there are fewer differences this year than last year.”
Edoardo Mortara, who spent six seasons with Audi before switching to Mercedes for 2017, added: “Last year, the car had its strengths and weaknesses and was sometimes difficult to control.
"Uniform aerodynamics can help us, in particular compared to Audi."
Returning 2015 champion Pascal Wehrlein, meanwhile, expects the regulation changes to place a greater emphasis on qualifying performance as overtaking could become harder.
"The DTM has always been known for the fact that the field was close to each other,” said the German, who will share Mercedes Formula 1 reserve duties with George Russell this year.
“The distance from first place to the last runner-up was sometimes only half a second. I guess the uniformity of the components will push the field even closer together.
“This makes it even more important to position yourself well in qualifying. If someone in front of you is only one or two tenths of a second slower, then it will be very difficult to overtake.”