The 2008 Mercedes-Benz DTM driver line-up is pretty much as expected following much speculation and high-profile tests over the winter, with only F3 refugee Maro Engel and former F1 race winner Ralf Schumacher joining the fold.
With Schumacher having been confirmed almost a month ago, and the majority of Mercedes' successful squad expected to return in 2008, only the final 2007-spec seat remained to be filled, with Mercedes protégé Engel getting the nod over some more illustrious names.
The complete nine-car line-up therefore comprises 2006 and 2007 series runner-up Bruno Spengler, five-time champion Bernd Schneider, 2007 race winner Jamie Green and the discovery of last season, Paul di Resta in the latest-specification AMG C-Klasse, while marque favourites Gary Paffett - the 2005 DTM champion - Mathias Lauda and Susie Stoddart will join Schumacher and Engel in 2007 models.
"In 2007, Mercedes-Benz drivers claimed 60 per cent of all points positions and, in 2008, we will have a strong team when I am sure the sport and the excitement in the new DTM season will be at an even higher level,” motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug commented.
“From 1988 until the 2007 season finale, Mercedes-Benz has completed 300 DTM and ITC races and won 141 of them. Our drivers claimed seven victories in last season's ten races, and five of our ten drivers - Bruno Spengler, Bernd Schneider, Gary Paffett, Jamie Green and Mika Häkkinen - were on the top spot of the podium at least once, while Mika and Jamie stood there twice each. Nine of our ten drivers scored points at least twice and this shows that, with maximum competitiveness, there are chances to score points for all of our drivers."
For Engel, the coming season will be a first outside a single-seater, the 22-year old having finished as runner-up in last year's British F3 Championship. Prior to that, he raced in FBMW, graduating to F3 in 2003, but also taking in some Italian F3000 races along the way. He first tested the AMG Mercedes C-Class in November last year at Mugello, followed by another test in Estoril in January 2008, before deciding to make the switch to tin-tops.
“Testing a race touring car was a new experience for me," the German admitted, "The DTM is a great challenge and I definitely want to seize the chance provided by Mercedes.”