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Petrov secures Mercedes DTM drive

Photo by Daimler AGMercedes-Benz have announced that Vitaly Petrov will join them in the 2014 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season, becoming the first-ever Russian driver in the German series.

The Russian tested for the manufacturer in Portugal in January, leading to the marque signing him up for the 2014 season alongside the already confirmed line-up of Gary Paffett, Paul di Resta and Daniel Juncadella.

Former Formula One racer Petrov first made an appearance at a DTM event with the series’ début in Russia last year, driving the Mercedes-Benz DTM race taxi around the Moscow Raceway. In 2014 he becomes the first-ever Russian driver in the DTM’s 30-year history.

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During three season in F1 between 2010 and 2012 with Renault, Lotus and Caterham, Petrov scored one podium result and finished the 2011 championship in 10th overall. Petrov was left without a drive in 2013 after his contract with Caterham was not renewed.

Petrov believes he will have a steep learning curve in the DTM due to the series’ quality and the challenges of adapting from a single-seater racing background.

“The DTM is a great racing series and I’m very happy that Mercedes-Benz are giving me the chance to compete against the world’s best touring car drivers in the DTM,” said Petrov. “I’m aware that I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I love a challenge and accept it gladly.

“At my first test in Portimão, I was able to make my first acquaintance with the team and get a feel for the car, which is very important for me in order to play to my strengths.

“Motor racing is becoming ever more popular in Russia – last year, the DTM debuted at the Moscow Raceway and Sochi will host Formula 1 for the first time this year. I am certain that we will see many more Russian racing drivers in various series in the future and I hope that I can do my part in the DTM to make our sport more popular in my home country.”

Mercedes-Benz’s Head of Motorsport Toto Wolff welcomed Petrov to the team following his successful test in January.

“Vitaly had a successful test in our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupe at Portimão and I’m sure that he will be valuable member of our team. Vitaly is a great sportsman and representative of his country, who has already demonstrated his ability by achieving, among other things, a podium finish in Formula 1. He will also be a great asset for Mercedes-Benz, especially in the Russian market.”

Jan Madeja of Mercedes-Benz Russia emphasised the importance of having a Russian driver in the series in order to drive sales in such a fast-developing market for the manufacturer.

“Mercedes -Benz is the fastest growing premium brand in Russia. Our car sales in Russia have increased more than tenfold over the past ten years, and interest in the DTM is increasing all the time in our country, which is one of the top ten best markets for Mercedes-Benz cars. For this reason, I am very pleased that we have been able to secure another well-known ambassador for our brand with Vitaly.”

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