New DTM deal for Schumacher

Mercedes has revealed that Ralf Schumacher has extended his contract to continue in the DTM for the coming season, with the former F1 racer moving up to a 2009-spec Mercedes C-Class for his second year in the series.

Having seen his Formula One career come to an end, the 33-year-old followed in the footsteps of drivers like Jean Alesi, Mika Hakkinen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in switching to the touring car series but he endured a difficult year in a 2007-spec car – taking a best finish of seventh and finishing down in 14th place in the standings.

However, with his learning year now behind him, Schumacher will be armed with the new 2009 Trilux AMG Mercedes C-Class for the new campaign and he said he was now keen to repay the faith shown in him by the manufacturer for the his second year of competition.

“After only one year with a year old car I now change to the up-to-date Mercedes-Benz C-Class,” he said. “A great chance for me.

“It was clear for all of us that 2008 would be a learning year for me, therefore I am satisfied with my achievements. The 2009 C-Class is a big chance for me and I want to justify the trust Mercedes-Benz put in me with good results.

“In my opinion, the DTM is the best touring car series in the world. Here we fight hard for every metre and every tenth of a second. As I know from many encounters in the paddock, the fans like this as much as me. From my point of view, the spectators don't get more value for their money in any other top racing series.”

Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Norbert Haug welcomed the chance to give Schumacher the latest model of car for the season ahead and said he was confident the driver would show what he is capable of during the year ahead.

“During the last season, Ralf Schumacher demonstrated that he was racing in the DTM with all his heart and that, after his Formula 1 career, he does not consider touring car racing a challenge which he has yet finished,” he said. “His learning year was good for him and for the DTM. The racing series again showed that even a world class driver with Formula 1 victories to his credit cannot come straight in and compete against the front runners.

“Nevertheless, Ralf became one of the most popular drivers already in his debut year and was in the focus of the interest from the beginning to the end.”

“Our latest tests in Mugello showed that Ralf can drive a DTM touring car at top level. After his 'learning year', he will get the chance in our new 2009 C-Class: Now everything is up to him and to us and I am sure Ralf will show what he can do.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ralf Schumacher during pre-season DTM testing for Mercedes at Oschersleben [pic credit: DTM Media]
Felix Rosenqvist, Mercedes Team ART, DTM [Credit: Mercedes]
Marco Wittmann, BMW, DTM, [Credit: DTM]
Robert Wickens, DTM, Moscow Raceway [Credit: DTM]
Mattias Ekstrom - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit Audi Sport]
Robert Wickens - Mercedes-AMG DTM Team HWA [pic credit DTM]
Rene Rast - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Rene Rast - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Edoardo Mortara - Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline [pic credit Audi Sport]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Marco Wittmann - BMW Team RMG [pic credit BMW]
Gary Paffett - Mercedes-AMG DTM Team ART [pic credit DTM]
Jamie Green - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Jamie Green - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Jamie Green - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Jamie Green - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Jamie Green - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]
Jamie Green - Audi Sport Team Rosberg [pic credit Audi Sport]

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Gareth - Unregistered

February 11, 2009 12:23 PM

Am I the only one who feels Ralf doesn't deserve a 2009 car? I always thought he achieved more than he should have and was lucky to stay in F1 as long as he did. This DTM deal seems to be more around his name than his skill and performance last year. Why not give one of the young guns a chance, someone who actually has the hunger.

Phil - Unregistered

February 12, 2009 5:45 PM

Well if they've chosen Schumacher over Paffett that's a poor decision. But then again, if they've chosen to retain Spengler in a new car rather than dropping him and promoting Paffett that's a poor decision also. If you compare Spengler and Ralf to their teammates Ralf did better. And to say that Ralf was in a reasonably competitive car is just plain wrong - at most tracks the old Audi was cosiderably faster than the old Merc, and the '08 cars were lightyears ahead of the '07 ones. Look at the distribution of points between the new cars and the old. There were 12 cars at each event that Ralf had no chance whatever of running with. How many points did Lauda and Stoddart get between them?

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