Thursday, 14 May 2009 04:00
DTM preview - It all starts at Hockenheim.
The first race of the new DTM season is traditionally staged at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg. Following the technical changes to meet Formula One standards, this 4.57km circuit has lost some of its high speed characteristics.
By way of compensation, the fans now get to see much more of the cars, in particular from the Mercedes-Benz grandstand which provides a perfect view of the best overtaking spot on the whole circuit, the Spitzkehre hairpin.
Despite the phasing out of the long straight sections through wooded terrain, engine performance and sound aerodynamics still play a key role. In addition, the tight turns, particularly those in the Motodrom sector, demand plenty of mechanical grip.
Thanks to the unique edge of the seat atmosphere generated by a sold out Motodrom as well as the hordes of fans in the paddock, the Hockenheimring is a worthy curtain raiser and climax to every DTM season.
Last five curtain raisers at the Hockenheimring
The opening races of the last five seasons all bring happy memories for Mercedes-Benz. The first race on the DTM calendar is traditionally staged at the 4.57km Hockenheimring just south of Heidelberg.
Mercedes-Benz got their 2004, 2005 and 2006 campaigns off to a flying start with victories here, and expectations are running high for this season’s curtain raiser next Sunday.
Mercedes-Benz put in a particularly strong showing on the first weekend of the 2005 season. At the end of the 37 lap race, the podium was occupied by three drivers sporting the three pointed star on their racing overalls.
Winner Jean Alesi was so delighted that he threw his helmet into the crowd. Also on the podium that day were champion to be Gary Paffett and record race winner Bernd Schneider.
Paffett and Schneider can also point to victories at this circuit. The current Salzgitter AMG Mercedes driver won back in 2004, while fellow MB driver Bernd Schneider (now retired from DTM racing) was victorious in 2006.
The last trophy claimed by a Mercedes-Benz driver went to Daniel La Rosa. Clever tactics and a solid performance saw the TrekStor AMG-Mercedes star take third place driving a one year old Mercedes-Benz.
Norbert Haug - Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“DTM represents extremely good value in terms of effective PR. After Formula One, there is probably no other motorsport series that has quite the same media impact. DTM certainly need not regard itself as the poor relative. In Germany alone, the live coverage on Saturdays and Sundays amounts to more than 30% of the viewing figures achieved by Formula One.”
“Following its re-birth in 2000, DTM has shown the way with its use of homologated parts such as standard brakes and gearboxes. In addition, they have introduced the rule that only three engines may be used for two cars during the whole season. I could mention plenty more good examples of cost cutting measures.”
“In DTM, we aim to operate on the most cost efficient basis as possible and to give the public good value for money. Despite the difficult economic climate, we at Mercedes have once again managed to boost our income from sponsorship quite considerably. All of which reflects very favourably on the DTM platform. At the same time, we submitted ourselves to a robust programme of raising efficiency and cutting costs over the winter months: in 2009, we expect to spend around 30% less than in 2008.”
Paul Di Resta (AMG Mercedes):
“We have worked hard and to good effect this winter. We are optimistic that our efforts will pay dividends in the first race of the season at Hockenheim. In any case, the AMG Mercedes C-Class gives me an excellent chance of being up there with the main title contenders.”
Ralf Schumacher (Trilux AMG Mercedes):
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the DTM season at the Hockenheimring two days from now. The winter break was actually too long for my liking. This year’s C-Class gives me an opportunity to make real progress.”
“Now that I’m driving the current Mercedes C-Class, there is obviously even bigger expectation. When you’re behind the wheel of a current DTM model, you’re expected to be competing for points, podium finishes and victories. Consequently, the pressure that I put myself under is also much greater. But I’m not going to let that knock me off my stride. I’m hopeful that, at the end of this season, people will be saying I took the right decision by staying on in DTM.”
“No one should underestimate DTM or the level of performance that is required to succeed here. There is no tougher or more challenging arena in motor racing.”
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