by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

DTM Hockenheim 2012: Preview

• Start of new era in the DTM – first race for DTM Mercedes AMG C‑Coupé

• The grand finale of the 2011 season – also at Hockenheim – was won by Jamie Green in the last outing for the AMG Mercedes C‑Class, the most successful car in DTM history with a total of 85 victories from 159 races

• Mercedes-Benz has won 31 out of 64 races at its home circuit of Hockenheim, including the last five races staged there, (i.e. opening and closing weekends of the season): Gary Paffett (x2), Jamie Green, Bruno Spengler and Paul di Resta

Comments on the DTM season opener at Hockenheim from:

Jamie Green (29, England, Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- won the closing race of the 2011 season at Hockenheim
- his record at Hockenheim is two victories (2007 and 2011), two pole positions (2005 and 2006) and five fastest race laps (2005, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011)

“I’m really looking forward to the new DTM season. We’re in for an interesting and thrilling year with our new Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. The fans can look forward to seeing spectacular cars in action and to witnessing some close-fought encounters on the track. For myself, I’m obviously hoping that I can start the new DTM era in the same way that I finished the old one – namely with a win. The DTM field is so strong and well matched that it is vital to lay down a marker in the first race and to build on that basis by consistently finishing at or near the front.”

Ralf Schumacher (36, Germany, Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- started from third on the grid in the 2011 season opener at Hockenheim
- claimed his first DTM podium in the 2011 season opener

“I have very positive memories of the season opener last year when I finished on the podium for the first time in my DTM career. It would be great if I could repeat that result this season. However, the winter testing has left us none the wiser as to the balance of power in the new DTM era – we’ll only find that out at Hockenheim. All the same, we’re coming to Hockenheim well prepared for the new season. I’m expecting an exciting race and – hopefully – a good result for myself.”

Gary Paffett (31, England, THOMAS SABO Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- has won three times at Hockenheim (2004, 2009 and 2010)
- has finished on the podium at Hockenheim on six occasions

“New cars, new drivers, new teams – it promises to be an exciting and intriguing start to the season. During the tests, I’ve thoroughly familiarised myself with our new Mercedes AMG C-Coupé and got used to the different handling of the car. It’s hard to predict the result of the first race, but I’m happy with our level of preparation and hope that we can get the season off to a solid start. Since my DTM debut in 2003, I’ve competed in a lot of races at Hockenheim. The circuit consists of three sections: the first corner is very fast and decisive for your time in the first sector; the second section mainly has long straights and demands some hard braking; the last sector is essentially made up of medium-fast and high-speed corners. To set a good lap time at Hockenheim, you need a well balanced car.”

Christian Vietoris (23, Germany, Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé):

- started from a Top 10 grid spot on his DTM debut in 2011 at Hockenheim
- is a member of the new Mercedes-Benz DTM Junior Team along with Roberto Merhi and Robert Wickens

“Here we go again – at last! I just can’t wait for the start of the season. Our preparations have been very good, and I learned a lot in my rookie season. I intend to build on this and convert the lessons from last year into respectable results. The conditions are perfect: I think I’ve slotted in well with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM and I feel at one with my Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé. I got to know the car well during testing and worked with the engineers on getting the setup right. The Hockenheim circuit is technically very demanding; it requires both good brakes and massive straight-line speed. It’s all about finding the right balance.”

David Coulthard (41, Scotland, DHL Paket Mercedes AMG C-Coupé):

- is starting his third DTM season at Hockenheim
- had a Top Ten finish in the 2011 season opener at Hockenheim

“Hard to believe it, but I’m just about to start my third DTM season. As always, I’m immensely looking forward to the season opener at Hockenheim, a contributory factor being the part played by the fans in our home race. They really get behind us and generate a fantastic atmosphere in the Motodrom and in the Mercedes-Benz grandstand. The second of these two vantage points gives them an excellent view of perhaps the best place for overtaking on the circuit – before and after the hairpin. I am aiming to improve on my first two seasons in the DTM, especially in qualifying and at the start of the race. If I can do that, I should be able to post decent results this year.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “In 2012, the DTM starts a new era - indeed, its third and most important era. The fact that Audi and Mercedes-Benz stayed the course for six years, putting on fascinating races in competition with each other, created the stable platform for a fresh start with new momentum. We are now welcoming BMW as a new competitor to the DTM. Thanks to Audi, Mercedes, the ITR and its board plus the DMSB and its officials, this unique, outstanding motorsport series has been preserved. Now, the world’s three best and best-known premium car manufacturers are competing against each other in the DTM, with a new and exciting generation of vehicles. Over a quarter of a century, Mercedes-Benz has been the most successful manufacturer in the DTM. In figures, a total of 165 victories from 342 races, ten driver titles, nine manufacturer titles and 13 in the team championship, encapsulate the achievements of our teams over the past 24 years. We will all work on the new chapter of this success story with focus and the highest motivation.”

What’s new for the 2012 season

- The new DTM cars are coupés (two door) rather than the saloons (four door) used previously

- The cars are longer (5,010 mm, previously 4,872 mm), wider (1,950 mm, previously 1,850 mm) and lower (1,210 mm compared to 1,255 mm)

- The minimum weight has been set at 1,100 kilos. This is combined weight of the car, driver and onboard camera (or substitute ballast if the car has not been allocated a camera).

- As in F1, drivers now change gear using paddles located on the steering wheel

- The innovative new safety concept is based on a standard construction carbon fibre monocoque with roll cage and crash structures

- There are about 50 other standard components to include parts such as brakes, fuel tank, rear wing, gearbox, clutch and starter motor

- The new Hankook tyres are taller and wider than their predecessors. They measure 30 cm at the front (previously 26 cm) and 32 cm at the rear (previously 28 cm)

- From this season, in-race refuelling is no longer allowed. Fuel tank capacity has been increased from 70 to 120 litres. The two mandatory pit stops are to remain.

- Points are to be awarded to the first ten drivers across the line using the Formula 1 system: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1

- In addition to the driver and team championships, there will also be one for the constructors. The ‘DTM Manufacturer Champion’ is calculated on the basis of the top ten finishers in each race. However, if any manufacturer has more than six cars amongst the points, the others won’t count.

- New arrangements for free practice on Fridays and Saturdays: the two sessions will be interrupted by a ten-minute break after the first 45 minutes.

- The maximum duration of a race is to be 70 minutes.

- For the race at Spielberg, the number of laps has been increased from 38 to 42.

- Introduction of a marshalling system: Signals will be given by flags as well as by means of coloured lights on the driver’s display unit.

* Official photos and details courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH *

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