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Apr 02

Mercedes-Benz Junior Team: Bringing on new talent in the DTM

New Mercedes-Benz DTM Junior Team for 2012 consisting of Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens

Robert WickensMercedes-Benz logoSuccessful Mercedes-Benz Junior Team of the 1990s featuring Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger to serve as model. Mercedes-Benz youth development as stepping stone to Formula One and DTM: Eight out of 24 F1 drivers in 2012 and five out of nine Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers in 2011 previously competed in Formula 3 in a Mercedes-powered car.

Mercedes-Benz is expanding its successful young driver programme in the 2012 season with a junior team for the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). Roberto Merhi (Spain, 20, Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, Persson Motorsport), Christian Vietoris (Germany, 23, Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé, HWA) and Robert Wickens (Canada, 22, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, Mücke Motorsport) will be contesting the world’s most popular touring car series behind the wheel of a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé as members of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team.

Serving as role model and mentor to the Junior Team will be Michael Schumacher; the veteran MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 driver will bring all his experience to bear from seven world championship titles and 91 Grand Prix victories. Schumacher himself also benefited from the Mercedes-Benz programme in the years 1990 and 1991, when he lined up alongside Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger with Sauber Mercedes in the Sports Prototype Championship. Schumacher, Frentzen (156 Grand Prix starts, 3 wins, 1997 World Championship runner-up) and Wendlinger (41 Grand Prix starts) all succeeded in making the step up to Formula One.

Christian Vietoris enters his second DTM season in 2012. The 22-year-old finished his rookie season on four points, his best race result being fifth place in the race at Oschersleben. Roberto Merhi and Robert Wickens are both about to make their DTM debut this season.

Merhi has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz young drivers programme since 2008, winning the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series title in a Dallara-Mercedes as well as the first-ever FIA ​​Formula 3 International Trophy. As a reward for this success, he was invited to test drive the new DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé at the end of the 2011 season.

Wickens won the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 World Series championship, posting five victories along the way. Later that same year, he gained his first experience of Formula One in a series of test drives for Marussia Virgin Racing and Lotus Renault GP. In 2009, he finished second in the Formula 2 standings, repeating this result in the GP3 Series the following year.

Encouraging young talent in motorsport has a long tradition at Mercedes-Benz. Since the inaugural Formula 3 Euro Series in 2003, 13 drivers have made the breakthrough to Formula One after learning their trade with a Mercedes-Benz Formula 3 engine. 33 percent of the Formula One grid for the 2012 season started out in Formula 3 with a Mercedes-Benz engine – reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and former champion Lewis Hamilton, 2010 DTM Champion Paul Di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hülkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Bruno Senna.

The Mercedes-Benz young drivers programme can also point to similar successes in other top motor racing series. Of the nine Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers in the 2011 season, five (i.e. more than half) competed in Formula 3 with Mercedes-Benz engines.

Roberto Merhi: “It’s a dream come true for me to have been promoted to the Mercedes-Benz DTM Junior Team. Having a Mercedes-Benz Junior Team in the DTM is a fabulous idea, and it’s the perfect way for me to advance my career. Without this talent development scheme which Mercedes-Benz have been running successfully for so many years, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s a great honour to be following in the footsteps of all the many famous drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Jamie Green and Paul Di Resta, knowing that they have had the backing of Mercedes-Benz and went on to win championship titles in the Formula 3 Euro Series, in Formula 1 and in the DTM.”

Christian Vietoris: “I feel very much at home in the Mercedes-Benz family and in this particular race environment, so I am all the more delighted to be one of the three drivers in the new Mercedes-Benz Junior Team. I hope to establish a long-term relationship with Mercedes-Benz in the world’s most popular touring car series, and I’m aiming to make a persuasive case for myself out on the track.”

Robert Wickens: “The DTM is a fantastic series – you’re competing against top-notch drivers. I’m proud that Mercedes-Benz are giving me the chance to show what I am capable of in this environment in the Junior Team. My main aim will be to finish every race and to deliver decent performances.”

Michael Schumacher: “I remember clearly the early stages of my career, and what I gained from my time in the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team – both on and off the track. It taught me the best way of working with the engineers and helped me build a professional relationship to the media. I’m excited to see how Christian, Roberto and Robert develop – they’re certainly going to have a great time – and I enjoyed meeting them in Barcelona to offer a few tips from my own experience. Mercedes-Benz places great importance on developing the next generation of drivers – and there are plenty of examples who demonstrate this. Being selected as a member of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team is really something to be proud of. I will be following the performances of the DTM juniors closely and wish them lots of success.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “Here at Mercedes-Benz, we have a tradition of nurturing promising young drivers and talent-spotting the stars of tomorrow that goes back almost as far as the earliest Mercedes-built racing cars.

In 2012, we are sending three highly gifted twenty-somethings into the fray as our DTM Junior Team: Roberto Merhi, the reigning Formula 3 Euro Series champion; Christian Vietoris, a GP2 champion who already has experience of DTM racing; and Robert Wickens who won the Renault World Series. All three of them are keen to seize this wonderful opportunity.

And they have excellent role models in Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger, the successful trio who made up the Mercedes Junior Team in the late eighties and early nineties, and who have still not finished making motor racing history.

The 2012 DTM season sees the introduction of a new coupé generation; this will be the first year in which our young and dynamic A-Class capturing the spirit of the times makes its debut – our DTM juniors do the same in their own way.

Roberto, Christian and Robert have a lot to learn, but that will not be a problem, as they are all three avid learners. The youth factor is entirely consistent with the DTM, even more so now that the series has been broadened out to include the three most successful premium marques in the world.”

Sporting career: Roberto Merhi

23/03/1991 Date of birth
1999 – 2006 Kart sport
2006 Spanish Formula 3 Championship (2 races)
2007 Italian Formula Renault 2.0: 4th place (1 win, 232 points)
European Formula Renault 2.0: 18th place (16 points)
Spanish Formula 3 Championship (2 races)
2008 European Formula Renault 2.0: 4th place (2 wins, 108 points)
Formula Renault 2.0 WEC: 2nd place (3 wins, 184 points)
Spanish Formula 3: 13th place (2 wins in 5 races)
2009 Formula 3 Euro Series: 7th place (42 points)
British Formula 3 Championship (2 races)
2010 Formula 3 Euro Series: 5th place (1 win, 56 points)
GP3 Series: 6th place (26 points)
2011 Formula 3 Euro Series: Champion (11 wins, 406 points)
FIA Formula 3 International Trophy: Champion (4 wins, 133 points)
2012 DTM, Junge Sterne Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, Persson Motorsport

 

Sporting career: Christian Vietoris

01/04/1989 Date of birth
2000 German ADAC Kart Championship Bambini: 2nd place
2001 German ADAC Kart Champion Bambini A
West German ADAC Kart Champion
ADAC Kart Champion Region Middle
2002 German ADAC Kart Champion Bambini A
West German ADAC Kart Champion
ADAC Kart Champion Region Middle
2003 German ADAC Junior Kart Champion
West German ADAC Kart Champion
2004 West German ADAC Kart Championship: 2nd place
2005 Formula BMW Germany: 17th place (15 points)
2006 A1GP Series for Team Germany: 2 races
Formula BMW World Finals: Champion
Formula BMW Germany: Champion (9 wins, 277 points)
2007 A1GP Series for Team Germany: 1 win
German Formula 3: 5th place (2 wins, 81 points)
2008 Formula 3 Euro Series, Dallara Mercedes, Mücke Motorsport:
6th place (1 win, 36 points)
2009 GP2 Asia: 10th place (1 win, 9 points)
Formula 3 Euro Series, Dallara Mercedes, Mücke Motorsport:
2nd place (4 wins, 75 points)
2010 GP2 Series: 9th place (1 win, 29 points)
2011 DTM, Junge Sterne AMG Mercedes C-Class, Persson Motorsport
14th place (4 points)
GP2 Series: 7th place (2 wins, 35 points)
2012 DTM, Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Coupé, HWA

 

Sporting career: Robert Wickens

13/03/1989 Date of birth
1999 – 2005 Kart sport
2005 Formula BMW USA: 3rd place (2 wins, 122 points)
Formula BMW World Final: 6th place
2006 Formula BMW USA: 1st place (3 wins, 149 points)
Formula BMW World Final: 8th place
Formula BMW Deutschland (2 races)
European Formula Renault 2.0 (2 races)
2007 A1GP (1 win)
Atlantic Championship: 3rd place (1 win, 255 points)
Formula Renault 3.5 (4 races)
2008 Formula Renault 3.5: 12th place (1 win, 55 points)
Formula 3 Euro Series: 6th place (1 win, 45 points)
2009 Formula 2: 2nd place (2 wins, 64 points)
Formula 3 Euro Series (4 races)
British Formula 3 Championship (2 races)
Atlantic Championship (1 race)
2010 GP3 Series: 2nd place (3 wins, 71 points)
2011 Formula Renault 3.5: Champion (5 wins, 241 points)
F1 test drives with Marussia Virgin Racing and Lotus Renault GP
2012 DTM, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, Mücke Motorsport

source: daimler.com

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