DTM debutant Maro Engel has revealed how he is eagerly anticipating working alongside team-mate and fellow series rookie Ralf Schumacher in 2008.
The pair will team up at Mücke Motorsport in the leading pan-European tin-top series this year, behind the wheel of 2007-spec Mercedes C-Classes. Whilst both are facing a stern baptism in what is widely acknowledged as one of the most hotly-fought championships around, British F3 graduate Engel is adamant he could have no one better to learn from.
“I'm truly looking forward to racing in a team with Ralf,” the young German enthused. “Ralf and I have known each other for about ten years, and I have always looked up to him. Hence, I'm really delighted with having the chance of racing in the DTM as his team-mate now.
“There are many things I can learn and I've already learned from him. Ralf has ten years of Formula 1 experience under his belt, while I'm just at the beginning of my career. Hence, I most definitely will benefit from our co-operation.”
Indeed, Engel has already laid down a small marker for the campaign ahead by pacing the first official pre-season test day at Mugello in Italy. He also thinks the inevitable media glare that will fall upon Schumacher can only be good for him, allowing him to get to grips with both the car and the championship in relative peace and anonymity.
“This could turn out to be a tiny advantage for us,” the 22-year-old acknowledged, “as our work probably will be easier without all of the hype.
“The test was big fun and the team did a great job. Unfortunately, the times are not yet very significant.”
Team principal Peter Mücke, meanwhile, is convinced his two new charges will enjoy a successful year together, and he stressed that there was no additional pressure on the Berlin-based squad despite Schumacher's high profile.
“Actually, the situation hasn't changed for us,” the 61-year-old insisted. “At the bottom line, Ralf behaves like a Formula 3 driver – he's down-to-earth and focused, without displaying any airs and graces.
“No doubt, the two drivers have got completely different histories, but that doesn't make a difference when it comes to working on the track. They both are professional and focused drivers.
“Both Ralf and Maro are racing at an extremely high level, and they have got what it takes to shine in the DTM. The competitiveness of the DTM grid is outstanding, hence it is difficult to make it to the very top, but if everything runs perfectly and you deliver when it counts, everything is possible.”