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Youthful Mercedes hunting for success

Photo by Daimler AG.It’s all change at Mercedes-Benz ahead of the 2013 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season. With an average of just 23 in the team the manufacturer is planning a reinvigorated attack on the German series this season, which starts at the Hockenheimring this weekend.

Mercedes have also reduced the size of their campaign to just six cars, with Persson Motorsport leaving the championship after seventeen years in the series. The vacated places on the gird will be taken by BMW’s fourth team, BMW Team MTEK.

There is also change at the top within Mercedes-Benz Motorsport for 2013, with Austrian Toto Wolff stepping into the role of Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

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“Our goal for this season is very clear-cut: We aim to win races and secure the championship,” said Wolff. “Gary Paffett may be our spearhead, certainly, but with our five Mercedes-Benz juniors we have a youthful line-up hungry for success.

“Our young drivers have shown their talent already with wins and championships in some of the world’s best junior series – Formula 3 Euro Series, GP3 and the World Series by Renault – and have the potential to forge successful careers. Mercedes-Benz has a long tradition of bringing on young drivers and we are certain that we are on the right path and will reap the rewards in the future.”

Gary Paffett will be the three-pointed star’s most experienced driver at 32 years of age. The experienced DTM driver, with 92 starts to his name, just missed out on the crown in 2012 and wants to ensure that he is not beaten to the title at the final round, as he was last year.

“My goal is clear: to fight for the championship and not be pipped at the post again in the finale at Hockenheim,” said Paffett. “My batteries are fully charged after the long winter break and I’m really looking forward to the new DTM season. Thanks to many new features, option tyres and DRS, this will certainly be an interesting and exciting year.”

Two youngsters, 18 year-old German Pascal Wehrlein and 21 year-old Spaniard Daniel Juncadella, join the Mercedes DTM squad for the forthcoming season. Indeed Wehrlein is set to become the youngest-ever DTM driver at just 18 years and 199 days.

“Right now, time is passing so quickly,” said Wehrlein. “One moment, I was having my first tests in the DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupé and now I’m preparing for my DTM debut. I can hardly believe it myself sometimes, but I’m ready for this challenge.”

Juncadella and Wehrlein join Christian Vietoris, entering his third season and roberto Merhi and Robert Wickens, both entering their second seasons in the series. Vietoris admitted that the more compact weekend for 2013 will make the learning curve even steeper for the DTM rookies.

“I’ve now contested four DTM races at this track and know that my engineers and me will have a tough job deciding on setting up the car, whether to go for downforce in the turns or for high straight-line top speed,” admitted Vietoris. “The shortened practice time will make that task even trickier for drivers this year.”

Between them, only Paffett has scored any podiums (31) and only Paffett and Merhi have scored a fastest lap in the series (9 and 1 respectively). Mercedes-Benz may have the most inexperienced team in the 2013 DTM, but it also has the most ambitious.

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