Mercedes drivers presented with new cars
Shortly before 8:00 h this morning, Dr. Dieter Zetsche welcomed the DTM drivers for the 2007 season in front of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and presented the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 350 company cars to every driver. The advantage of all drivers will never be bigger this season, as the market launch of the new C-Class will take place two days afterwards on 31st March 2007 in the Mercedes-Benz subsidiaries and their partners.
Line-up with two new drivers: Like last year, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz team comprises one female and nine male drivers. Bernd Schneider, five-times and reigning champion, is scheduled to head the line-up. The Newcomer is Paul di Resta, 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series Champion with a Dallara Mercedes, who gets his chance in the Mercedes-Benz support programme of young talent and who is the youngest driver in the field at 20 years old. Gary Paffett is well known as the 2005 DTM champion and Formula One test driver for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
The 10 Mercedes-Benz drivers:
Bernd Schneider (42 years/Germany), Original-Teile AMG Mercedes C-Class 2007: Schneider completed 210 DTM races so far; one and a half time as much as his nine Mercedes-Benz team mates together. Schneider achieved 41 race wins, 24 pole positions and 58 fastest race laps. In 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006 Bernd clinched the DTM Championship titles; in addition, he won the 1995 ITC, which had been staged in parallel with the DTM. -- "It doesn't matter if I'm the challenger or being chased, the pressure is always the same and I know it for many years. It is my target to defend my title."
Bruno Spengler (23/Canada), DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG Mercedes C-Class 2007: The 2006 runner-up won four out of ten races taking more victories than any other DTM driver achieved last year. After a learning year in the Persson team in 2005, Spengler moved up to the HWA works team in 2006. He won four races and clinched two pole positions and four fastest laps. When he won his first DTM race at the Norisring he was 22 years old and at the same age as the former Mercedes juniors Dario Franchitti and Jan Magnussen when they won their first DTM races in 1995 in Mugello and in 1995 in Estoril respectively. -- "2007 will be the toughest DTM season and want to fight for the title."
Jamie Green (24/England), Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class 2007: For ten years the British driver, now 24, has been connected with Mercedes-Benz. In 1997, he finished second in the kart series "Champions of the Future" after winning two races. The series was part of the support programme of Formula One partners McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. In the DTM, he scored an impressive number of six pole positions out of 21 races so far, four of them he achieved in the 10 races of 2006. After five podiums, the first race win should follow in 2007. -- "After six pole positions I want to finally win my first race. "
Mika Häkkinen (38/Finland), AMG Mercedes C-Class 2007: The season opener at the Hockenheimring on 22nd April will mark the beginning of Häkkinen's third DTM season. In his debut year 2005, he had scored his first ever DTM victory already in his third race. Only one DTM rookie -- Jean Alesi, who had his DTM debut in 2002 with Mercedes-Benz, won as early as Mika Häkkinen. The Finn had retired from Formula One in 2001 as a double World Champion with McLaren Mercedes in 1998 and 1999 after 166 races and 20 Grand Prix wins. -- "For me the DTM is the best touring car series in the world and here I want to win. I will work hard to start the season in good shape."
Gary Paffett (26/England), AMG Mercedes C-Class 2006: The 2005 DTM Champion looks back on nine wins out of 20 of his 30 DTM races, statistically he has won almost every second race in 2004 and 2005. Two months after his title win, in December 2005, he became test driver for Team McLaren Mercedes. This year, he will not only race again in the DTM but also test the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-22. -- "I am fully focused on the start of the DTM season. To start here is for me not just a second job but a challenge as a race driver. "
Alexandros Margaritis (22/Greece), stern AMG Mercedes C-Class 2006: In 2006, the Greek-German scored points with the 2005 C-Class in fifty percent of the races. His best result of the season he achieved in Hockenheim when he ended up fifth. -- "My team mate Gary Paffett raises the bar pretty high, but for me this is an even bigger motivation."
Daniel la Rosa (21/Germany), TrekStor AMG Mercedes C-Class 2006: At the age of ten, Daniel la Rosa drove a kart for the first time, after ten minutes he set a new lap record. Ten years later, in 2006, he was the youngest Mercedes-Benz DTM driver of the year. He drove the private team Mücke Motorsport's 2005 AMG-Mercedes C-Class to a seventh place in Barcelona, his eighth DTM race, and finished the season 15th with two points. -- "After my first DTM year as a rookie I clearly want to score more points in 2007."
Mathias Lauda (26/Austria), Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class 2006: Only four years after his first race ever Mathias Lauda started in the DTM with a 2004 AMG-Mercedes C-Class of the Persson team. No driver made it to the DTM with fewer races than the son of three-times Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda. Lauda's best result was tenth position in the season finale at Hockenheim. OnIn 2007, he changes to a last-year's model. -- "In 2007, I want to score my first DTM points with the 2006 Mercedes-Benz C-Class."
Paul di Resta (20/Scotland), AMG Mercedes C-Class 2005: After Daniel la Rosa in 2006, now the Scotsman is the youngest Mercedes-Benz driver. Di Resta is the cousin of former Mercedes-Benz DTM driver Dario Franchitti, who currently participates in the US Indy Racing League. In 2000, di Resta won the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future Kartserie. In 2004, he won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award and became Mercedes-Benz Junior. In 2006, Paul di Resta won the Formula 3 Euro Series with a Dallara Mercedes of the ASM team. -- "It is not easy to change from a Formula 3 car to the AMG Mercedes C-Class; however, my first tests went well. I am a rookie and never drove a race car with a roof before, but I want more than just participating. I want to thank Mercedes-Benz for the opportunity with good results."
Susie Stoddart (24/Scotland), TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes C-Class 2005: In 2003 and 2004, Susie Stoddart was one of the six finalists for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award. After several races in the British Formula 3 Championship, she entered the DTM one year ago. In her first race, the DTM season opener in Hockenheim she finished in 10th place that she had fought for. Five times in ten races, Susie Stoddart was the best driver with a 2004 car. -- "When I manage to improve my qualifying performance I will also achieve better results."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "The new season will be a very special one for our motorsport team, because it is marked for Mercedes-Benz by the market launch of our new C-Class, which is a great success with a record number of orders prior to the market launch. The race version has been developed parallel with the production car and both are now debuting at the same time."
"From the sporting point of view, 2007 will become the greatest challenge for all participants without a doubt in the history of the DTM. Never before have all 20 cars been assigned to more capable drivers, never before have the cars been entered by more experienced and effective teams. All DTM spectators, be it at the race tracks or at home in front of their TVs, can look forward to even more excitement and even better sport."
"Thanks to the class of the entire field and the adequate weight categorization for this year's three touring car age-groups 2005, 2006 and 2007 every driver should be able to fight for points. The fact, that there is room on the podium for only three and points for only eight promises exciting fights and great entertainment." Mercedes