DTM Hockenheim 2013 (I): Preview of the season-opener

The first weekend in May (4th-5th May 2013) marks the start of the new season at Hockenheim and is the home fixture for Mercedes-Benz, featuring new drivers, a new schedule and new sponsors.

The drivers: This year, the brand with the three-pointed star has quite consciously taken the decision to field a young squad of drivers. Joining Gary Paffett, the most successful driver currently competing in the DTM and DTM runner-up in 2012, no less than five talented ‘young guns’ will line up at the start in their DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés. With an average age of 23 years, the Mercedes-Benz team of drivers is the youngest of all the three manufacturers contesting the DTM.

Team Management: Mercedes-Benz begins the 2013 season not only with a newly established, young driver squad, but also with a fresh DTM management team; Austrian Toto Wolff has been motor racing manager at the brand since 21st January 2013. Wolfgang Schattling is responsible for management and communication of all matters concerning Mercedes-Benz and their involvement with the DTM. The sporting and technical management of the DTM teams is the responsibility of HWA AG Chairman Gerhard Ungar. In addition, Ralf Schumacher has switched roles, moving from the cockpit into team management at RSC Mücke Motorsport, where he will be giving support and advice to young drivers Daniel Juncadella and Pascal Wehrlein.

Sporting and Technical Regulations: Important changes to the DTM regulations have been introduced for the 2013 season. Firstly, race weekends have become more streamlined: Friday practice has been dropped. In future, DTM drivers will work on set-up during a 90-minute session on the Saturday morning. Also, to provide even more excitement and overtaking opportunities, a second, softer compound tyre (option tyre) and Drag Reduction System (DRS) have been introduced. Both these innovations are well-known from Formula 1.

The track: The DTM traditionally starts and finishes the season at the 4.57km Hockenheimring in Baden-Wurttemberg. The section of track from the Parabolic to the hairpin is the fastest piece of track on the DTM calendar and is taken at about 270km/h – the full-throttle percentage over one lap is 64%. Seven turns are negotiated at more than 100km/h and only four at less than 100km/h.

VIP guest at Mercedes-Benz: Formula 1 star Nico Rosberg will appear as a guest in Hockenheim on Saturday and Sunday (4th and 5th May 2013). This season, Nico Rosberg will mentor members of the Mercedes-Benz DTM junior teams, offering them advice and support. Nico will be on hand to answer journalists’ questions during a press conference on Sunday 5th May at 10:00am in the Baden-Württemberg Centre, along with the Mercedes-Benz juniors Daniel Juncadella, Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris, Pascal Wehrlein and Robert Wickens.

Comments on the 2013 DTM season-opener at Hockenheim

Gary Paffett (32, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- has won four times at Hockenheim (2004, 2009, 2010, 2012) during his DTM career
- has secured eight podiums at Hockenheim

“Hockenheim simply suits Mercedes-Benz and me. Our brand has been victorious 32 times here and I myself have won four races. Last year, we achieved a one-two victory in the season-opener – a perfect start. I hope we can do it again this year. My batteries are fully charged after the long winter break and I’m really looking forward to the new DTM season. Thanks to many new features, option tyres and DRS, this will certainly be an interesting and exciting year. After the many kilometres of testing this winter, I can’t wait to finally get started in Hockenheim and intend to be back on the attack once again in my EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. My goal is clear: to fight for the championship and not be pipped at the post again in the finale at Hockenheim.”

Roberto Merhi (22, Spain, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- begins his second DTM season at Hockenheim
- has won five Formula 3 Euro Series races at Hockenheim

“Now we can finally get started. I can’t wait for the season to begin. Preparations have gone extremely well. I learned a great deal in my first DTM season last year. I intend to extend my knowledge this season and put lessons learnt to good use and achieve some decent results. Everything is now in place: During the test sessions, I was able to familiarise myself with the technical innovations and worked on my driving style to ensure that I continue to progress during the year ahead.”

Christian Vietoris (24, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- finished the 2012 DTM season-opener at Hockenheim in fourth place
- was in the Top 10 for start of race on his DTM debut at Hockenheim in 2011

“After this winter’s testing, we don’t yet know how we will compare in terms of power to the other teams in the new season – we will find that out at Hockenheim. I’ve now contested four DTM races at this track and know that my engineers and me will have a tough job deciding on setting up the car, whether to go for downforce in the turns or for high straight-line top speed. The shortened practice time will make that task even trickier for drivers this year. But I’m highly motivated and optimistic as my third season gets under way.”

Robert Wickens (24, Canada, STIHL Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- made his DTM debut at Hockenheim a year ago
- won a GP3 Series race at Hockenheim in the 2010 season

“Here we go, can’t wait for my second DTM season! I’ve driven on many tracks during my career, but the fantastic atmosphere in the Motodrom and in the Mercedes grandstand is simply the best and I get quite excited when I start thinking about the season-opener. The introduction of DRS and the two different tyre compounds for the new season not only promise more excitement for the spectators in the stands and at home in front of their TVs, but more action for us drivers out on the track. My first DTM season was a training year, but this season, I now really want to go on the offensive and to consistently finish in the points and maybe achieve a podium.”

Daniel Juncadella (21, Spain, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- has won four Formula 3 Euro Series races in Hockenheim
- on the Tuesday (7th May) after his DTM debut, will celebrate his 22nd birthday

“My promotion to the DTM is like a dream come true for me. The DTM is a hard-fought series, and I certainly don’t expect it will be easy this year as a rookie, but I am a fighter and felt at ease in my car during the winter tests and have coped well so far with the transition from Formula 3 to the DTM. Now I am looking forward to finally experiencing the superb atmosphere in Hockenheim’s Motodrom from the cockpit of my stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé.”

Pascal Wehrlein (18, Germany, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- will be the youngest DTM driver ever to compete at Hockenheim, aged 18 years and 199 days
- achieved two podiums at the finale of the 2012 Formula 3 Euro Series in Hockenheim

“Right now, time is passing so quickly. One moment, I was having my first tests in the DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé and now I’m preparing for my DTM debut. I can hardly believe it myself sometimes, but I’m ready for this challenge. I will treat the season-opener in Hockenheim just like any other race and try to do my best, learn as much as possible and have a good race – maybe I might even finish in the points, which would, of course, be a dream result. What is vitally important, though, is that I quickly get to know the team and the car and gain experience for the rest of the season.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Hockenheim is the perfect place, indeed, a marvellous setting to start the new DTM season. It is a challenging and demanding race track. Hockenheim is not just a home fixture for Mercedes-Benz, but also represents extremely successful territory for us. It may sound like a cliché when I say that this year’s DTM is as open and exciting as ever, but it is very true. Thanks to DRS and the new option tyres supplementing the usual tyres, the DTM will be even more exciting and unpredictable in this second year with the new generation of vehicles. Our goal for this season is very clear-cut: We aim to win races and secure the championship. Gary Paffett may be our spearhead, certainly, but with our five Mercedes-Benz juniors we have a youthful line-up hungry for success. Our young drivers have shown their talent already with wins and championships in some of the world’s best junior series – Formula 3 Euro Series, GP3 and the World Series by Renault – and have the potential to forge successful careers. Mercedes-Benz has a long tradition of bringing on young drivers and we are certain that we are on the right path and will reap the rewards in the future.”

Credits: Daimler AG

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