Three-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will face off against two-time former champ Mika Hakkinen in the opening round as Mercedes' traditional end-of-season Stars & Cars event introduces a competitive element for the first time.
Race fans voted for their favourite drivers to go head-to-head in the first round of the Race of Champions-style event, which will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart next weekend, and the process threw out a number of intriguing match-ups.
Aside from the prospect of Hamilton taking on Hakkinen, the poll also paired the remainder of the eight seeded drivers - Hamilton, Christian Vietoris, Paul di Resta, Pascal Wehrlein, Daniel Juncadella, Gary Paffett, Robert Wickens and Nico Rosberg -
with opposition of their choice, including pitting 2014 and '15 F1 runner-up Rosberg against second-generation star Mick Schumacher and creating an all-Scottish battle between di Resta and 2014 RoC champ David Coulthard.
The full slate of races in the opening round is as follows:
Lewis Hamilton - Mika Häkkinen
Christian Vietoris - Maximilian Götz
Paul di Resta - David Coulthard
Pascal Wehrlein - Jean Alesi
Daniel Juncadella - Lucas Auer
Gary Paffett - Bernd Schneider
Robert Wickens - Bernd Mayländer
Nico Rosberg - Mick Schumacher
The main competition consists of four rounds, reducing the original field of 16 to two in time for the final. Competitors will compete against each other in identical cars in every race, with the winner moving on to the next round. Each of the four rounds will be contested using different classes of vehicles, progressing from Mercedes-AMG A45 4MATIC, through Mercedes-AMG C 63 S and Mercedes-AMG GT S before using the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in the final. There will also be five 'special' races, featuring current and historic racing cars that represent Mercedes-Benz's peerless motor racing heritage, as well as all of the marques' 2015 championship-winning cars, from the Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid to the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM.
“I have celebrated each of my world championships at Stars & Cars, so I'm very excited about going back again for title number three, to share that experience with the fans and with my colleagues at Mercedes-Benz,” Hamilton commented, “The atmosphere is always something very special, and it's great to hear that Mercedes is trying something new.
“I'm excited that we're thinking out of the box a little bit for Stars & Cars 2015, because that's what I try and do as well. I've been a member of the Mercedes family since I was 13 years old and it is always special to be representing the company right in the heart of Stuttgart. Plus I love to race, so I'm looking forward to a really competitive event to round off this amazing year.”