After being impressed by the DTM's D?sseldorf presentation earlier this month, Ralf Schumacher is now keen for the season proper to get underway at Hockenheim this weekend, anticipating an even more exciting campaign in the offing.

The Formula 1 refugee - who left the top flight following eleven years and six victories at the end of 2007 - has been getting accustomed to his new, 2007-spec Mercedes C-Class mount over the course of pre-season testing with his M?cke Motorsport outfit, and whilst he acknowledges that it is a new challenge he is facing, it is clearly one he is very much looking forward to.

"Never before I have experienced such an atmosphere in motor racing," the 32-year-old enthused of the DTM's traditional annual launch. "This event exceeded everything I have heard before about the DTM presentation, and it was also a great debut for myself.

"Following my many test kilometres during the winter I am really keen on my first DTM race. I got acquainted with the DTM Mercedes C-Class intensively and I am well-prepared for the new season. Now I want to see where I am compared to the competition."

Team-mate and countryman Maro Engel is a fellow rookie in the leading pan-European tin-top series in 2008, and the British F3 graduate is aware he has a steep learning curve ahead of him.

"I am really looking forward to my first DTM season," the 22-year-old acknowledged. "The DTM is motor racing at the highest level and I will probably have to learn a lot to establish myself in the series. During my first season, I want to improve continuously and score points in as many races as possible."