Mercedes-Benz have announced their driver lineup for the 2011 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season, with Christian Vietoris and Renger van der Zande revealed as newcomers to the team.
Following the graduation of 2010 series champion Paul di Resta to a slot in Formula 1 with Force India, Jamie Green will make a return to the crack HWA team. Green raced for the top Mercedes team for three years, between 2006 and 2008, but was demoted to an older-spec car for 2009. He placed seventh and sixth respectively in the subsequent two seasons, winning at the Norisring in both years.
The 28-year-old said: “It's a great feeling to know that Mercedes-Benz have decided to reward my efforts in recent years – including those three victories in Nuremberg and my performance as best driver in a year-old car in 2009 and 2010 – by giving me a current AMG Mercedes C-Class. I'm aiming to repay the confidence they have shown in me by turning in some good results this year.”
Green joins Gary Paffett, Bruno Spengler and Ralf Schumacher at HWA. Paffett, who finished runner-up to di Resta last season, said: “The DTM season 2011 brings new challenges, especially those that come with the change of tyre supplier to Hankook. Our tests with the new tyres have been very promising, and I am fully motivated about the upcoming season. My objective this time round is to improve on last year's result by one position.”
Vietoris will drive a 2008-spec Mercedes, combining his maiden DTM campaign with a sophomore year in the GP2 Series for Racing Engineering. The 22-year-old German said: “The switch from a single seater to a touring car is a huge challenge, but I feel I have adjusted quickly to the C-Class and settled in well with the team during the tests. I would like to continue along this learning curve and be successful in my debut season.”
Van der Zande joins the Mercedes DTM rostrum after enjoying strong links with the marque during his years in Formula 3. The 25-year-old Dutchman suffered a tough year racing in GP3 last season. “Obtaining a DTM cockpit with Mercedes-Benz is a dream come true,” he said. “I know that I face a big challenge, but I will be doing my very best to acclimatise myself to DTM racing and to master the AMG Mercedes C-Class in the fastest possible time.”
The rookie pair will be amongst five drivers behind the wheel of 2008-spec cars, partnering David Coulthard, Susie Stoddart and Maro Engel. Coulthard will be embarking on his second season in the DTM. “My first DTM season was a learning year,” said the BBC Formula 1 commentator. “My year of apprenticeship is over – now I’m looking to make some real progress. After scoring my first DTM point in the grand finale in Shanghai in 2010, I'm hoping to please my fans this season with more point-scoring finishes.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug said: “The 2010 DTM season was a highly successful one for our brand as well as for our teams. Current title holder Paul Di Resta has built on this success to make the step up to Formula One where he will still be driving a Mercedes engine for his new team, Force India. The new season brings a new tyre partner for the DTM series by the name of Hankook, so I'm sure that the cards will be well and truly reshuffled as a result. From our perspective, we certainly don't have any divine right to victory and, as ever, we will have to work hard to earn every good result. Everyone in our teams is full of enthusiasm for the challenge ahead.”