Prior to the season launch event at Wiesbaden, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed the nine drivers that will represent the marque in the 2011 DTM series.
Following the departure of 2010 Champion Paul di Resta to race in Formula 1 with Force India, two newcomers -Christian Vietoris and Renger van der Zande - will join Gary Paffett, Bruno Spengler, Ralf Schumacher, Jamie Green, Susie Stoddart, Maro Engel and David Couthard.
During the 2010 season, 22-year-old Vietoris competed in GP2, the supporting series to Formula One. He had previously competed in the Formula 3 Euro Series for Mücke Motorsport in a Mercedes-Benz-powered Dallara car in 2008 and 2009, finishing as runner-up in his second season with four wins. 25-year-old van der Zande competed in the 2010 GP3 series (also a supporting race event on GP weekends), having contested before the German Formula 3 Championship, the Formula 3 Euro Series and the British Formula 3 Championship in MB-powered cars under the wing of the Mercedes-Benz young driver scheme between 2006 and 2009
Vietoris, (Junge Sterne AMG Mercedes C-Class) and van der Zande (stern AMG Mercedes C-Class) will not be the only drivers racing a 2008-spec C-Class: they will be joined by Susie Stoddart (28, TV Spielfilm AMG Mercedes C-Class), Maro Engel (25, GQ AMG Mercedes C-Class) and David Coulthard (40, Deutsche Post AMG Mercedes C-Class).
The 2009 AMG Mercedes C-Class that will be raced by the four HWA drivers starts the forthcoming season with real pedigree, having scored eight victories in the eleven races of the 2010 season. Reigning DTM champion Paul Di Resta and runner-up Gary Paffett claimed three victories each. Third-placed Bruno Spengler contributed two more wins for Mercedes-Benz, with the ninth coming from Jamie Green driving for the Persson team in a 2008 AMG Mercedes C-Class at the Norisring - this marked the car's third consecutive victory at the track.
Lining up for the HWA team are: Gary Paffett (30, THOMAS SABO AMG Mercedes C-Class), DTM Champion in 2005, DTM runner-up in 2004, 2009 and 2010, test driver for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One team; Ralf Schumacher (35, Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class), the third-most successful German Formula One driver ever with six Grand Prix victories under his belt; Bruno Spengler (27, Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Class), DTM runner-up in 2006 and 2007 as well as third-placed driver in 2010. Returning to the HWA team is Jamie Green (28, AMG Mercedes C-Class) from Leicester (England), Formula 3 Euro Series champion in 2004 and winner of the last three races at the Norisring in Nuremberg with the same car.
This marks a return to the current specification car for Jamie Green, and he is relishing the challenge.
"It's a great feeling to know that Mercedes-Benz have decided to reward my efforts in recent years - including those three victories in Nuremberg and my performance as best driver in a year-old car in 2009 and 2010 - by giving me a current AMG Mercedes C-Class,” he said. “I'm aiming to repay the confidence they have shown in me by turning in some good results this year."
Meanwhile, Gary Paffett is also relishing the twin challenge of competing in the DTM whilst undertaking his duties as test driver for Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes.
"The DTM season 2011 brings new challenges, especially those that come with the change of tyre supplier to Hankook,” he reflected. “Our tests with the new tyres have been very promising, and I am fully motivated about the upcoming season with our new sponsorship partner THOMAS SABO. My objective this time round is to improve on last year's result by one position."