Mercedes' most successful driver and its biggest star look set to extend their contracts with the Stuttgart marque next year, following a superb 2006 that yielded six victories from ten races for the three-pointed star and a dominant championship triumph.

Although nothing is yet official, it seems more than likely that both Bernd Schneider and Mika Hakkinen will continue to race for Mercedes in the DTM next season. The German clinched a record fifth DTM crown this year courtesy of a stunningly consistent campaign, while the Finnish former Formula One world champion took sixth in the standings in his second year in the category, with the highlight of second place in the penultimate round at Le Mans and further podium finishes at the Norisring and Lausitz.

"It was incredibly important to me to show that I can still do it," said Schneider, alluding to a couple of years in the wilderness prior to his 2006 title success that had led some to question if he was past his best. "It was a tailor-made season for me."

With Jean Alesi's departure and the sudden divorce between Audi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen following the final round at Hockenheim last month, Hakkinen could be the sole ex-grand prix ace on the DTM grid in 2007, but he has performed well over his first two seasons and is keen to keep that momentum going.

"We are working on a joint future together," the 38-year-old confirmed.


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