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Gary Paffett leads heavily-revised Mercedes line-up for 2017

2005 champion Gary Paffett will lead Mercedes-AMG DTM into battle for the 2017 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series, as the full line-up of 18 drivers that will race over nine weekends have been now been completed.

Edoardo Mortara was confirmed as joining the Stuttgart outfit a matter of weeks after the 2016 season finale, after a six-year spell at Audi Sport, having finished a mere four points off defending champion Marco Wittmann.

The pair are also joined by another former champion in the form of Scotland’s Paul Di Resta, who took the title back in 2010. This as well as 2016 title contender Robert Wickens and the only Austrian to win a race in the DTM, Lucas Auer, who took a maiden win at the Lausitzring last year along with two pole positions.

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After an absence of five years, Germany’s Maro Engel makes a welcome return to the DTM, having raced for the brand between 2008 and 2011. Engel has been a big part of Mercedes’ efforts in sportscar racing, which includes wins at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau and at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and was present at last year’s Young Driver test in Jerez de la Frontera.

“In 2017, all of us manufacturers will be up against major challenges. We have a new car, new tyres and a reduction in the number of drivers on the grid,” explained Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM, Ulrich Fritz.

“The standard of competition is therefore going to be higher than ever before in the DTM. That’s precisely why I am glad we have put together such a high-calibre squad. Edo, Lucas, Paul, Gary and Rob have all won DTM races and are well capable of having a say in the destination of the title.

“But therein lies yet another major challenge for the team and the drivers – to succeed this year, we need to function as a homogenous and resolute unit. Added to which, we have Maro who also has a lot of experience and is a title winner in his own right.”

Maximilian Günther, who was runner-up in last year’s FIA F3 European Championship, has been named as the official test and reserve driver for the team, who will be run by DTM powerhouse HWA, based out of Affalterbach.

With further changes happening at Mercedes, it sees the departure of Spain’s Daniel Juncadella, Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist and Germany’s Maximilian Götz and Christian Vietoris, with Ulrich Fritz thanking them for their efforts in the DTM.

“We are saying goodbye to four drivers who have competed successfully for the team in recent years. We would like to thank them for their efforts and their dedication. They didn’t always have it easy, but they resolutely stuck to the task. I am convinced that this will continue to be the case in the future, and I wish them all the best for their new endeavours.”

Testing ahead of the 2017 DTM season gets back underway between the 20th and 23rd of February at Portugal’s Portimao circuit, with a further two tests schedule for March in Italy and the official pre-season ITR one set to take place in the first week of April.

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