Mercedes is aiming to pick up where it left off when the 2007 DTM campaign gets into gear at Hockenheim this weekend – with victory at a circuit that has traditionally smiled on the three-pointed star.
Mercedes has triumphed in more than 80 per cent of the DTM races held at the home of the German Grand Prix over the past seven years, and remains unbeaten there since the end of 2002. In total, the manufacturer has racked up 25 victories at the track, compared to rival Audi's five.
The most recent of those successes came courtesy of Bruno Spengler in last year's season finale. After finishing as runner-up in the series at only his second attempt, the Canadian is clearly keen to make it third time lucky by going one spot better in 2007.
“My target is clear,” the 23-year-old stated. “I want to start this season in Hockenheim like I ended the last one here – with a race win.”
The only man to outscore Spengler last season was five-time DTM champion Bernd Schneider, who will begin his 40th race at Hockenheim this weekend, having last climbed onto the top step of the podium there this time last year.
“Thirteen victories in Hockenheim so far have turned into five championship titles,” the 42-year-old said. “The enthusiastic crowd in the Mercedes grandstand and in the Motodrom will motivate me again and I will fight for win number 14.”
Inarguably the biggest name in the Mercedes camp – double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen – came into the series with a bang in 2005, winning only his third-ever race, but since then has struggled to maintain that form on a consistent basis. He is adamant 2007 will mark a fresh beginning and a genuine challenge for the crown.
“I have completed an intensive testing programme like never before in the DTM to prepare for the new season,” the Finn explained. “I am looking forward to fighting for the title.”