Mercedes has confirmed its driver line-up for the 2013 DTM season, with reigning FIA Formula 3 European Championship title winner Daniel Juncadella moving into the series for the first time.
Juncadella becomes the latest member of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team alongside Roberto Mehri, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens, while experienced pair Gary Paffett and Ralf Schumacher complete the six driver line-up, with Mercedes having downscaled from the eight cars it ran last year.
Of the 2012 drivers, Jamie Green has moved over to Audi, while David Coulthard and Susie Wolff have both elected to leave the series – which opened up the vacancy now filled by Juncadella.
The decision to sign the 21-year-old to complete the line-up means there is no place in the Mercedes squad for Robert Kubica, who had been linked with a drive after testing the AMG C-Coupé earlier in the month.
"Developing young talent has a long history at Mercedes-Benz, so it is entirely logical to increase the size of our DTM junior team in this second year and welcome a fourth driver to the team in Daniel Juncadella,” Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said. “Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens were faced with an extremely difficult challenge in their first year with the new generation of vehicles but did extremely well.
“There was never any doubt that they would continue their training in 2013. That too is part of a successful youth development programme. We would wish to offer our thanks to Nico Rosberg. Despite a strenuous and time-consuming Formula 1 programme, he will take time out once in a while to support our young DTM drivers and give them help and assistance.
“We have two seasoned and very experienced racing drivers in the squad - Gary Paffett and Ralf Schumacher - who will also act as guides to our youngsters both from a racing and human perspective. With the aim of making the best possible use of resources in mind, we have decided to race six DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés this year. We hope to gain more flexibility in the development of our vehicles by focusing on six cars and using resources more efficiently."
Juncadella, who has also been linked with a Mercedes F1 testing role in recent days, said he was delighted to have the chance to move into the German touring car series and said he was eager to repay the faith shown in him.
"My DTM debut is like a dream come true,” he said. “I cannot wait for the season opener at Hockenheim. I'll be lining up for my first DTM race in a Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. I would like to offer my thanks especially to Mercedes-Benz, since my success in recent years - and consequently this move up into the DTM - would not have been possible if it had not been for their junior programme and their support. I will now do my level best to maintain the confidence placed in me."
While Juncadella will be making his debut, Paffett will be embarking on a tenth campaign in the series, with his sights set firmly on a title bid after missing out on honours last year after a season long battle with the BMW of Bruno Spengler.
"The new DTM season marks an anniversary for me,” he said. “This will be my tenth season in the world's most popular touring car series as a Mercedes-Benz driver. Last year, I led the standings from the opening race right through to the season finale at Hockenheim. Unfortunately, we didn't have that bit of luck that would have seen us win the championship. Anyway, I'll be pushing even harder this time and going all out for my second DTM title."