by Russell Atkins

Entering his third season in what is arguably the world's most hotly-contested tin-top series, Jamie Green has made it clear he will not be satisfied with anything less than victory in 2007.

The 24-year-old finished sixth at the wheel of a year-old car in his maiden campaign in the championship back in 2005, and so impressed his Mercedes bosses they promoted him to the crack AMG line-up for the following year. Despite a string of pole positions, three podium finishes and outpacing the likes of Mika Hakkinen, Bernd Schneider and Tom Kristensen in qualifying, however, the Leicestershire ace could only improve by one position in the drivers' standings, something he is desperately keen to put to rights over the forthcoming eight months.

"I'm really optimistic for this year," he enthused to "Last year had a lot of positives apart obviously from not managing to get a race win, but overall it was a really good year for me. I think 2007 could and should be even better.

"I learned last year you get no points on Saturdays. I finished fifth in the championship and that's all that really counts - the championship - not how many pole positions you set. This year I definitely need to work on my race performances, which is mainly the starts. They are my weak points, and if I can conquer that I think I will then have a very good chance of winning the championship."

It is a positive outlook, but not one without foundation. Green came within a scant five seconds of triumphing on no fewer than three occasions in 2006, and only a late-race error deprived him of what would have been a famously popular victory in front of his partisan home supporters at Brands Hatch in July. Just once failing to qualify inside the front two rows of the grid, his outright speed and potential were clear for all to see.

"It does give you a bit of a lift to know your ultimate pace is as good as or better than anybody else's," he acknowledged, "especially against someone like Mika who has won the Formula One World Championship twice. It was quite surprising to be quicker than him - it's a bit of a strange situation for a young driver to be in, but at the same time a nice situation.

"Brands Hatch is unfinished business for me because I really should have won there last year, and to win in front of your home crowd would be a really special day. That's what I would like to do, so I'm especially looking forward to going back there."

Looking ahead to the task in-hand, the 2004 F3 Euroseries champion believes it will once again be a tightly-fought campaign and is taking nothing for granted, especially given the calibre of the opposition he will be up against. He does, however, expect Mercedes to retain the upper hand it by-and-large displayed over Audi in 2006.

"I think overall we had a slightly better package last year than Audi did," he stated. "Even on the occasions when we had more weight in the car I was still able to qualify on pole position. We had a strong package and hopefully this year we can have a similar situation.

"All my team-mates are rivals - they have got the same car as me. Mika, Bruno (Spengler) and Bernd are obviously the main ones because they have a similar opportunity as me, but then at Audi you can never rule out (Mattias) Ekstrom and Kristensen in particular, so there will be a lot of competition for sure.

"You never know how close the new cars are going to be to the year-old cars. Obviously I'm happy to be in an '07 car, though if Gary Paffett is in a used car then we will really see what the difference is, because he is the top driver. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out."

A winner in every other series he has entered so far, one thing the former British F3 bridesmaid is certain of is the necessity for him to break his DTM duck this year, having now come so close so many times. And once that monkey is off his back, there may just be no stopping him.

"Bruno Spengler finished second in the championship last year and I wasn't too far behind him," he asserted. "That shows what's possible and I know I'm capable of doing the same as him. I'm sure we will have a good car and I will just focus on my own programme.

"I need to improve on Sundays and make some better starts, and I think the end result of that will be race wins. That's obviously the ultimate aim, but I just want to keep improving every year and enjoying the challenge, and hopefully if I do all that it will get me some wins along the way."



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