Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team has announced five of their drivers in the upcoming season.
The 2018 season will be final DTM year for Mercedes, who will turn the focus onto the ABB FIA Formula E Championship instead. That is also reflected in a slightly conservative choice of the five drivers for the season.
Gary Paffett, Lucas Auer, Paul di Resta and Edoardo Mortara will all continue to race for the team, while 2015 Champion Pascal Wehrlein returns to the team.
Gary Paffett is the most experienced driver by far, since he will start his 15th season for the German brand – in fact he has participated in half of all the seasons, that Mercedes has run in the DTM! So far, he has only won a single DTM Championship, back in 2005.
Paul di Resta will start his 9th season for the brand, where only three Formula 1 seasons kept him away from the German series. He won the DTM in 2010 and instantly got a ticket for Formula 1 at Force India, which Mercedes provided engines for. The collaboration never really got going, and after three years, he returned to the DTM.
Edoardo Mortara didn’t arrive at Mercedes until 2017, but he did six seasons for Audi Sport prior to that. He was close at winning the Championship in 2016, but if it was accidental or his thoughts about the upcoming Mercedes contract had any influence, is hard to know, but he lost out on the Championship by only a few points to BMW driver Marco Wittmann. He got a single podium at Mercedes in 2017, in a season, where there was far and few positives for Mortara. He has started to participate in the Formula E Championship for the Venturi team two months ago, which might be a prelude to Mercedes entering the series. He was on the way to win his only second race in Formula E, but a driver error close to chequered flag, made him finish only second.
Pascal Wehrlein has a story very similar to di Resta. He came up through Formula 3 and was hired by Mercedes for their DTM team in 2013. He took his debut win in his second season, and won the DTM Championship in his third season, and then received a Formula 1 ticket for the Manor team. After their closure post 2016, he went on to race for Sauber, where Mercedes paid for his season. He got a neck injury prior to the season, at the Race Of Champions, making the young German having to miss the first two races of the season in Formula 1. Sauber chose to continued with Ferrari power and rebrand them as Alfa Romeo. By doing that, Ferrari demanded one of their Junior drivers to be in the car, and there was no longer room for Wehrlein. 2018 will be his fourth season in the DTM.
Lucas Auer will also have his fourth season for the team. He was the only hope for Mercedes in the 2017 season, where he was the Championship leader after the first three rounds of the year. But then the roller coaster went steep downwards with only one point during the next four races. The fall was stopped at Norisring, where a podium finally was achieved again, but except a victory at Nürburgring, the second end of the season wasn’t anything to think back on for Auer. He managed to finish 6th in the Championship – three positions ahead of the second best Mercedes driver, Robert Wickens.
As previously mentioned on Racing24-7.net, the two vacated seats at Mercedes 2018 appeared when Robert Wickens went to the Verizon IndyCar Series, and Maro Engel has chosen to focus on Formula E and GT racing.
The DTM season 2018 starts at Hockenheim on 5 May.