Mercedes GP drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg pulled the covers off the German brand's new C-Coupe DTM challenger for the 2012 season at the Frankfurt motor show, less than 24 hours after rival Audi presented its next car.

Based on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe road car launched this summer, it is built around a new spec safety cell which will be identical for all of the DTM cars under the new technical regulations for next year.

Schumacher and Rosberg unveiled the car alongside Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management at Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Division, and Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

“This new-generation vehicle, based on our Mercedes-Benz C- Coupe, signals the introduction of an even more spectacular racing car from the start of 2012,” said Haug. “I am certain that the spectators will get their money's worth from the three-way fight between Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the DTM next year.”

Driver Gary Paffett said: “The first test of a new car is always an exciting moment. After getting a feel for the handling and performance of the DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupe around the Lausitzring, I can say I'm very pleased with it. Of course, we still have a lot of development work ahead of us before the 2012 season opener at Hockenheim.

“The driving experience is quite different to that of previous DTM cars. The new Hankook tyres for 2012 are wider and have taller sidewalls, providing more mechanical grip. Also, the gear lever has disappeared for 2012 – we will change gear using paddles on the steering wheel instead – and that's something I'm already used to from Formula One.”

Photo: Daimler AG