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Stuttgart - The Mercedes-Benz driver line-up for the 2014 DTM season is complete: Apart from former DTM champions Gary Paffett and Paul Di Resta, ex-formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov will line up in this season's DTM for the brand with the three-pointed star, along with last year's Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers - Daniel Juncadella, Christian Vietoris, Pascal Wehrlein and Robert Wickens.
All seven DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé drivers prepared for the start of the season on May 4th in Hockenheim by working out in the Austrian town of Seefeld. The team made final preparations for the upcoming tests and the season opener at Hockenheim at the fitness camp in Seefeld.
Young guns come of age
Four drivers, who have successfully moved up into the DTM in recent years as Mercedes juniors are again in this season's line-up for Mercedes-Benz. Christian Vietoris will begin his fourth DTM season on May 4th in Hockenheim. Vietoris finished in fourth place in the standings last year on 77 points and was best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver. "I reached my personal goal of a position in the top five last year, for sure" said Vietoris. "And I finished on the podium four times, but unfortunately, never quite made the topmost rung. I would really like to change that this year. My team and I intend to go flat out to achieve our objective."
Robert Wickens is one of three DTM winners in the squad. The Canadian won his first DTM race in last year's race at the Nürburgring. "My goal last season was to consistently finish in the points and maybe even achieve a podium - I did even better than that with three podiums and my first DTM victory," said Wickens, who finished fifth overall in 2013. "I aim to build on those results in 2014 and improve further. I definitely got the taste for victory at the Nürburgring."
Pascal Wehrlein debuted as the youngest DTM driver ever last year. The 19-year-old Mercedes junior is again part of this year's driver line-up for the brand with the three-pointed star. "My debut season last year was okay, but this season I would like to do even better and improve even more," said Wehrlein, who achieved three points scoring finishes in 2013. "I want to finish regularly in the points this year and maybe spring one or two surprises as the season progresses."
Like Wehrlein, Daniel Juncadella will also be commencing his second DTM season. The Spaniard will also be gaining experience as a Formula 1 test driver for Sahara Force India-Mercedes as far as his DTM duties permit. "The DTM obviously has top priority as far as I'm concerned," stressed Juncadella, who placed 16th on 21 points in his debut season in 2013. "My goal is to be in tiptop condition for the start of the season in order to achieve my first podium finish in the DTM this year and maybe even win a race."
Two DTM champions in hunt for title
2010 DTM champion Paul Di Resta is returning to the world's most popular touring car racing series. The Scot will be lining up again for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM after three Formula 1 seasons with Sahara Force India-Mercedes. "Much has altered since my last DTM race in Shanghai in 2010, but one thing remains unchanged, my thirst for success," said Di Resta. "I look forward to working with everyone in the Mercedes-Benz DTM team, with whom I am now back in the title hunt."
Apart from Gary Paffett, Di Resta is one of two former DTM champions in the Mercedes-Benz squad. Paffett, who was DTM champion in 2005, is also the driver with the most wins to his name among those currently contesting the series, having achieved 20 DTM victories. "I can't wait for the new season to commence," said Paffett. "Pre-season preparations have gone very well for us so far. Now I can hardly wait for the season opener at Hockenheim and to be finally back in contention for points after the long winter."
Vitaly Petrov is new to the DTM team at Mercedes-Benz. He was the first Russian Formula 1 driver and will also become the country's first DTM driver this season. "I'm aware that I have a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I love challenges and accept it willingly," said Petrov. "I was able to get a feel for the car on my first test, which is very important for me in order to play to my strengths."
"Our DTM squad for the 2014 season is a good mix of successful DTM winners such as Gary and Paul, plus aspiring DTM drivers like our Mercedes juniors," said Head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff. "We clearly did not quite live up to our expectations last season, which is why we intend to do much better in the new season. With two DTM champions, two ex-Formula 1 drivers and a bevy of young, well-proven DTM drivers, we will achieve even more race wins this year and aim ultimately to have a good crack at the title."
Last year's DTM driver Roberto Merhi completes the DTM squad at Mercedes-Benz for the 2014 season. The Spaniard will support the seven regulars as a test driver in development work with the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé.
Preparations for the DTM anniversary year - 30 years after the inauguration of the touring car series - will end with two four-day ITR test sessions in Budapest (March 31st-April 3rd) and Hockenheim (April 14th-17th). The first race of the season will take place about two weeks later and at the same venue, namely, the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg (May 3rd-4th).
Source: Daimler AG