Driver line-up for 2017
The Mercedes-AMG DTM driver line-up for the 2017 DTM has now been confirmed. It includes one new arrival, four familiar faces and one returnee. The newcomer to the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport family is Edoardo Mortara. He will be joining Lucas Auer, Paul Di Resta, Gary Paffett and Robert Wickens – four DTM race winners who each have several years of experience as members of the team. Completing the sextet is former DTM driver and ex‑FIA GT World Champion Maro Engel.
Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM Ulrich Fritz: “In 2017, all of us manufacturers will be up against major challenges. We have a new car, new tyres and a reduction in the number of drivers on the grid. The standard of competition is therefore going to be higher than ever before in the DTM. That’s precisely why I am glad we have put together such a high-calibre squad. Edo, Lucas, Paul, Gary and Rob have all won DTM races and are well capable of having a say in the destination of the title. But therein lies yet another major challenge for the team and the drivers – to succeed this year, we need to function as a homogenous and resolute unit. Added to which, we have Maro who also has a lot of experience and is a title winner in his own right.”
Welcome to the team, Edoardo Mortara!
In Edoardo Mortara, the team have signed the 2016 DTM championship runner-up. The Italian got his first taste of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM during the official test week at Jerez de la Frontera in early December. After winning the closing race of the 2016 campaign, he is impatient for the new season to begin.
“I’m looking forward to the 2017 season and to working with my new team-mates,” said Edoardo. “We have a number of experienced drivers who I’ve enjoyed competing against in the past. I am convinced that together we can deliver excellent results for the team. It is important to have speedy team-mates, because that raises the level of performance for everyone.”
Experienced quartet of race winners
The longest-serving member of the DTM squad is team captain Gary Paffett. The 2005 champion is about to start his 14th DTM season. “Over the last few years, we have improved incrementally and have steadily assembled a strong team of engineers, mechanics and drivers. Building on this is something I am especially looking forward to. For me personally, it means switching from ART back to HWA. But I will also be working there with people I have known for some time. I hope that, at the start of the season, we will have a car with which we can be competing for race wins. All our drivers are very fast and competitive. Lucas and Rob in particular massively improved their form from 2015 to 2016. They will certainly be strong again. Edo is another experienced driver and a title prospect for our team.”
For the first time in his DTM career, Robert Wickens was a serious contender for the championship last year. That has strengthened the five-time DTM race winner’s resolve ahead of the new campaign. “It’s cool that I’m back,” said the Canadian. “2016 was one of my best years in the DTM. I want to build on this with the team in 2017. I cannot wait to get back to work with my new team-mates. The winter break has gone on for much too long.”
Paul Di Resta is about to embark on his eighth season in the DTM. “New season, new rules, new challenges,” said the 2010 DTM champion and winner of seven races in the series. “There are exciting times ahead for the DTM. We saw some good signs last year, and I am looking forward to picking up where we left off. Consistency is going to play a decisive role. I am excited about working with the team on the development of a completely new car. Our objective is to build something special so we can hopefully compete for the championship.”
When Gary Paffett became the DTM champion in 2005, Lucas Auer was only eleven years old. Now, eleven years later with a first DTM win behind him, the Austrian is preparing to contest his third season driving a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. “Every year the expectations get higher,” said Auer, “but I’m still looking forward to my third year in the DTM. The important thing now is to settle into the HWA team quickly and then get maximum performance out of myself and my car. It will once again be sporting the BWT livery, and I have to say in all honesty that I cannot imagine the DTM without my Pink Panther!”
Maro Engel – The returnee
Maro Engel has already had one stint as part of the Mercedes-AMG DTM setup from 2008 to 2011. In those four years as a member of the Mücke Motorsport team, his highest championship finish was twelfth: “I definitely have some unfinished business with the DTM. I am very pleased that I’ve been able to battle my way back into the squad over the past few years and that I now have a chance to prove myself in the coming season. I have fantastic team-mates who I’ve obviously known for a long time. That's why I'm sure I won’t have any problems settling in.”
Maximilian Günther as new test and reserve driver
In addition to Edo and Maro, there is one other new arrival: Maximilian Günther has been recruited as test and reserve driver for the coming season. The 19-year-old made his first DTM appearance in the Young Driver Tests at Jerez de la Frontera early in December. It was a reward for his strong performance in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, in which he finished runner-up.
“It is a huge honour for me to be brought into the Mercedes-AMG DTM Team as test and reserve driver,” said Maximilian. “Just under two months ago, I was invited to take part in my first DTM test at Jerez, which was a lot of fun for me. The car was really impressive. Working with the team went really well. It was totally cool. To be now officially part of the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport family is a very special feeling for me. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead with even greater anticipation.”
Every new beginning involves a reflection on what went before. Ulrich Fritz expressed his gratitude to the outgoing members of the squad: “In Daniel Juncadella, Maximilian Götz, Felix Rosenqvist and Christian Vietoris, we are saying goodbye to four drivers who have competed successfully for the team in recent years. We would like to thank Dani, Max, Felix and Chris for their efforts and their dedication. They didn’t always have it easy, but they resolutely stuck to the task. I am convinced that this will continue to be the case in the future, and I wish them all the best for their new endeavours.”
What comes next: tests and season opener
The new driver sextet will contest the first race weekend of the 2017 DTM season as is customary at Hockenheim (5th - 7th May). Until then, however, there is still a lot to be taken care of. The first official tests of the year will take place between 20th and 23rd February at Portimao. Afterwards, the new cars will be tested thoroughly in Vallelunga (13-16 February) and in Hockenheim (03-06 April) until the start of the season.
“There is still a lot of work to be done before the season gets underway,” stressed Ulrich Fritz. “We have to continue developing our new car and get used to the new regulations. However, I am confident that, with our team setup, we are well equipped to have a successful season.”