Mercedes-Benz boss, Norbert Haug has warned Mika Hakkinen that his F1 record will mean nothing when he makes his debut in the DTM this coming year, and that if anything, it will make him a bigger target.

Speaking about the coming season, when Mercedes will field seven cars, for not only Hakkinen, but also fellow rookies, Jamie Green and Bruno Spengler, as well as established aces, Bernd Schneider, Jean Alesi, Gary Paffett and Stefan Mucke, he added that a 'dozen combinations of drivers and cars will be capable of winning' - a very different situation to F1, where it is usually only a select few that can take the ultimate honours.

"The DTM will be even more international in 2005," commented Haug. "The new season's field will include drivers from nine nations. In our team alone there are seven drivers from five different countries. With the races at the Grand Prix circuits at Istanbul and Spa, as well as at the street circuit in Avignon, three new, spectacular and crowd-pulling venues will add to the calendar.

"With regards to the sport, the 2005 DTM will certainly be the biggest challenge for drivers and teams since the series exist. I expect about a dozen combinations of drivers and cars capable of winning, and accordingly very close gaps within the field and exciting races.

"Of course, we are all looking forward to our new entry named Mika who is everything but unknown. He is not only two-time F1 world champion but also still one of the most popular race drivers in the world, and he is an ambassador for our brand as well as for motor sport in general, particularly in Germany.

"However, his team-mates and especially the competing manufacturers' drivers won't care much about it. For them, Mika is one of the many rivals on the track. He will not get a bonus for being World champion from Bernd, Jean, Gary, Jamie, Bruno and Stefan - for all of them it will be a great pleasure to beat him. The DTM is not an easy task, not even for a two-time world champion, but Mika knows what he wants and, more over, he knows what he is capable of."

 

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