Following a winter of 'intensive preparation' Mercedes believe they head into this weekend's 2015 DTM season opener at Hockenheim better equipped after enduring a dismal 2014 campaign.

Mercedes succumbed to one of their worst ever DTM season's in 2014 despite winning more races than the eventual manufacturer champions, Audi.

It was no coincidence that all three of the C-Coupe's victories were born from mixed conditions as a seemingly incurable lack of raw pace plagued much of Mercedes' season.

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Christian Vietoris emerged from the 2014 championship standings as the top Mercedes runner in fourth but finished an almost staggering 100 points adrift of BMW's Marco Wittmann.

Head of Mercedes' DTM program, Ulrich Fritz says his team - aligned with the development of the C63 AMG - has undergone a major overhaul for the new season. The Stuttgart manufacturer is also running eight machines in 2015 after seeking the partnership of DTM newcomers ART Grand Prix.

"We have worked intensively over the winter to improve the performance of our cars and to restructure our team so that we can close the gap on the opposition in the upcoming season," said Fritz.

"At Hockenheim, we'll be able to judge for the first time whether and to what extent we have succeeded. But even if we're not quite up to the standard of our competitors yet, we will not be burying our heads in the sand: we have grown much closer together as a team over the winter months.

"The entire team is highly motivated, and together we will do everything we can to win races as soon as possible and to be competitive in the DTM.

"Whether we can manage to do that as early as this weekend, is impossible to say. Let's wait and see how qualifying goes on Saturday. Then at the latest, all the teams will have revealed their true level of performance."

Britain's Gary Paffett has joined forces with ART alongside DTM debutant Lucas Auer after spending eight seasons - over two separate stints - with HWA.

"Hockenheim is a really special race for me. I've had a lot of success there, including 2004 when I won my first race. Since then I've won three times at Hockenheim," said Paffett.

"It's a place that brings a lot of fond memories for me, so I'm really looking forward to going back there with my new team, ART. Our aim is at least to be the best Mercedes. Where we go from there, we'll have to wait and see."