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Title challenger Paffett heads Mercedes DTM line-up

Thursday, February 21 2013

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its 2013 DTM line-up, with British ace Gary Paffett leading a focussed squad that includes former F1 race winner Ralf Schumacher and a strengthened junior programme. The championship will visit Brands Hatch on 18/19 May.

Last year's DTM runner-up Paffett is the championship's most successful active driver, with 19 victories in addition to the 2005 title. Despite a strong start to 2012, which included dominating his home round, the Bromley-born racer lost out on the crown by a single point. With the recent defection of Jamie Green to Audi's attack, the 31-year-old is expected to lead the Stuttgart marque's challenge this season.

"The new DTM season marks an anniversary for me, said Paffett, who also continues his role as McLaren F1 tester. "This will be my tenth season in the world's most popular touring car series as a Mercedes-Benz driver. Last year, I led the standings from the opening race right through to the season finale at Hockenheim. I'll be pushing even harder this time and going all out for my second DTM title."

Meanwhile Schumacher, younger brother of recently-retired F1 champion Michael and a Grand Prix winner in his own right, will return for a sixth season. "I feel very much at home in the DTM and in the Mercedes-Benz family," he said. "I have set myself ambitious targets this year and have already embarked upon an intensive fitness programme as part of pre-season preparations."

In addition to the experienced pair, four young drivers will be leading the charge for the next generation of stars and continuing a tradition that started with Michael Schumacher and has included Dario Franchitti and both Green and Paffett. Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens continue their tenure and will be joined by FIA Formula 3 champion Daniel Juncadella from Spain. Emphasising the importance of the junior team, Mercedes has appointed their F1 star Nico Rosberg as mentor to the youngsters.

Mercedes-Benz's new co-ordinator of motorsport activities Toto Wolff said: "Developing young talent has a long history at Mercedes-Benz, so it is entirely logical to increase the size of our DTM junior team in this second year and welcome a fourth driver to the team. With the aim of making the best possible use of resources in mind, we have decided to race six DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupés this year. We hope to gain more flexibility in the development of our vehicles and using resources more efficiently."

Tickets for the DTM at Brands Hatch on 18/19 May are available from £29, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.