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Timo Scheider is one of the true DTM icons. From 2000 to 2016, the 38-year old contested a total of 181 races for Opel and Audi. In 2008 and 2009 the German won the drivers’ championship and until today, he and Bernd Schneider are the only ones who successfully defended their DTM titles.

This year, Scheider contests the World Rallycross Championship and consequently, he also will be active in the support programme of the DTM season kick-off at Hockenheim. As one of the most successful German Racing drivers in the history of the popular international touring-car series, he is the perfect choice for the first expert’s tip of the year. Please read below what Scheider expects from the first two races in the new season.

Timo Scheider: “The fact that Gerhard Berger now is at the helm of the series certainly will turn out to be positive for DTM. He will make for a breeze of fresh air. Meanwhile, the regulation changes for the new season also could contribute to this development. When it comes to the more powerful engines I even would have loved to see an increase by 150bhp to make the races even more spectacular. But even the increased horsepower output we will see now definitely isn’t a disadvantage. The new tyre is a good step and I hope that it will improve the racing on the track. But I will have to wait and see how things will turn out on the weekend. The fact that the radio contact from the pits to the driver is prohibited is something we already would have loved to see earlier. The qualifying session is particularly thrilling anyway. Such a fast lap is something really special. And if you get it right and make it to the top three you now will be rewarded. And you have to opt for a setup for the qualifying or the race. But due to the points that can be scored I expect the majority to opt for race setups.”

Timo Scheider: “I secured both my titles at Hockenheim. Therefore, this circuit always will be a special place for me. The racetrack itself has got a special ambience – with the stadium where you are racing in front of the fans for three or four corners. That’s a really great atmosphere. With the DRS, the hairpin represents a great overtaking opportunity and on the way out of the hairpin to the Mercedes Arena you occasionally also can use the DRS. These are the neuralgic spots. But this also depends on the setup of the car. You can set your car up for better aerodynamics and higher top speed in sections one and two what will cost you slightly in the stadium – or you opt for the opposite approach what will cost you some speed on the straights but you will have a mechanically very good car with more downforce in the stadium. All this depends on what suits the car and the driver more.”

Timo Scheider: “Making a prognosis prior to the first race is difficult. Everybody speculates that the others still could have something up their sleeves and that the cards will be put on the table only in the first qualifying session. Only then everybody will know where they are standing. The BMW was very impressive in the Hockenheim tests. And I really would love to witness my buddy Timo Glock deliver and prevail throughout the season – just because he deserves it and because I would enjoy it. I think that BMW once again have a realistic chance of battling it out for the title. On the other hand, the Mercedes also seemed to be very competitive. While the Audi looks very aggressive. But at the end of the day, everybody currently still are disguising and deceiving. So I think that it will take some races until we will have got a clear picture.”

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In the run-up to the 2017 DTM season that will be kicked off from 05th to 07th May at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG will contest three official tests.

The first five days of testing (20th to 24th February) will be held at Portimão, located at Portugal’s Algarve coast, followed by four days (14th to 17th March) at Vallelunga, located to the North of Italy’s capital, Rome, and four days (03rd to 06th April) at the Hockenheimring. And during the tests at the German circuit, the gates will be open for the public.

The technical regulations for the coming season will feature several alterations that will be announced before long – as soon as the final decisions have been made.

That’s why the off-season tests are of major importance: to enhance those developments on the track that were developed in winter. So, mainly the first two tests also will be contested by special development vehicles to put the new components to the acid test.

At the same time, the drivers want to adapt to their new racing cars. Other than in Formula One where the drivers fully focus on this series, the drivers contesting DTM for Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG are true jacks of all trades and often race in another series or in selected sports-car events.

For instance, quite a number of them recently competed in the Daytona 24h Race and Mercedes-AMG’s DTM repat Maro Engel contested Formula E races, in the off-season. So, they haven’t to ‘relearn’ to drive a racing car. And don’t forget that all the 17 drivers apart from Loic Duval already have got DTM experience under their belts.

For the fans, the official DTM testes represent the perfect opportunity to get in the right mood for the forthcoming season. It’s true, the test results usually don’t provide a clear hint to the balance of power but witnessing the impressive touring cars of the three German premium-car manufacturers back on the track makes you wish for more.

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Just before the season opener at Hockenheim (5-7 May, 2017), the DTM commission has made the final decisions and finalised the sporting regulations.

To enhance the sporting competition, the focus is on the individual performance of a driver. “In the DTM, we want to put the sport into the centre of the attention. The DTM has an outstanding and strong field of drivers and the fans want to experience this performance in the races”, says Gerhard Berger, chairman of the ITR.

From this year on, radio communication will be considerably limited. During the race, transmitting information from the pits to the driver is forbidden. Thus, the driver has to take considerably more responsibility and make decisions himself. Pit-to-car communication is limited to the classic pit board on the main straight. The ban on radio communication only is lifted in very few exceptional situations: when the DTM car is in the pit lane, yellow flags are being waved or during a safety car intervention. In these cases, safety-related instructions may be given.

Indianapolis-style restarts in double-file grid formation will create additional excitement after the neutralisation of a race by means of a safety car intervention. Thus, commitment from the driver is required after the restart for the direct duel with his opponents.

The tactical skills of the driver, who now has to race without radio instructions, also become apparent by the significant limitation of the drag reduction system (DRS). In all the races, the use of DRS is limited to 12 laps (a total of 36 activations). Like before, the gap to the driver in front at the start and finish line has to be within one second.

Qualifying becomes considerably more significant. Points are now awarded for first to third place: three points for pole position, two points for second place on the grid and one championship point for third place on the grid. Thus, the challenge for the driver of achieving a perfect lap in qualifying is rewarded more than before. The manufacturers and the teams, meanwhile, have to find the best possible set-up that works for both the full race distance and a fast lap in qualifying.

The performance weight system remains largely unchanged. The allocation remains based on the qualifying results. The basic weight of the new DTM cars has been fixed at 1,125 kg. In steps of 2,5 kg, a maximum of 15 kg can be added or a maximum of 30 kg can be taken out.

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Mercedes-AMG DTM driver line-up for the 2017 DTM has now been confirmed. It includes one new arrival, four familiar faces and one returnee.

The newcomer to the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport family is Edoardo Mortara. He will be joining Lucas Auer, Paul Di Resta, Gary Paffett and Robert Wickens – four DTM race winners who each have several years of experience as members of the team. Completing the sextet is former DTM driver and ex‑FIA GT World Champion Maro Engel.

Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM Ulrich Fritz: “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. 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.”

In Edoardo Mortara, the team have signed the 2016 DTM championship runner-up. The Italian got his first taste of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM during the official test week at Jerez de la Frontera in early December. After winning the closing race of the 2016 campaign, he is impatient for the new season to begin.

“I’m looking forward to the 2017 season and to working with my new team-mates,” said Edoardo. “We have a number of experienced drivers who I’ve enjoyed competing against in the past. I am convinced that together we can deliver excellent results for the team. It is important to have speedy team-mates, because that raises the level of performance for everyone.”

The longest-serving member of the DTM squad is team captain Gary Paffett. The 2005 champion is about to start his 14th DTM season. “ Over the last few years, we have improved incrementally and have steadily assembled a strong team of engineers, mechanics and drivers. Building on this is something I am especially looking forward to. For me personally, it means switching from ART back to HWA. But I will also be working there with people I have known for some time. I hope that, at the start of the season, we will have a car with which we can be competing for race wins. All our drivers are very fast and competitive. Lucas and Rob in particular massively improved their form from 2015 to 2016. They will certainly be strong again. Edo is another experienced driver and a title prospect for our team.”

For the first time in his DTM career, Robert Wickens was a serious contender for the championship last year. That has strengthened the five-time DTM race winner’s resolve ahead of the new campaign. “It’s cool that I’m back,” said the Canadian. “2016 was one of my best years in the DTM. I want to build on this with the team in 2017. I cannot wait to get back to work with my new team-mates. The winter break has gone on for much too long.”

Paul Di Resta is about to embark on his eighth season in the DTM. “New season, new rules, new challenges,” said the 2010 DTM champion and winner of seven races in the series. “There are exciting times ahead for the DTM. We saw some good signs last year, and I am looking forward to picking up where we left off. Consistency is going to play a decisive role. I am excited about working with the team on the development of a completely new car. Our objective is to build something special so we can hopefully compete for the championship.”

When Gary Paffett became the DTM champion in 2005, Lucas Auer was only eleven years old. Now, eleven years later with a first DTM win behind him, the Austrian is preparing to contest his third season driving a Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. “Every year the expectations get higher,” said Auer, “but I’m still looking forward to my third year in the DTM. The important thing now is to settle into the HWA team quickly and then get maximum performance out of myself and my car. It will once again be sporting the BWT livery, and I have to say in all honesty that I cannot imagine the DTM without my Pink Panther!”

Maro Engel has already had one stint as part of the Mercedes-AMG DTM setup from 2008 to 2011. In those four years as a member of the Mücke Motorsport team, his highest championship finish was twelfth: “I definitely have some unfinished business with the DTM. I am very pleased that I’ve been able to battle my way back into the squad over the past few years and that I now have a chance to prove myself in the coming season. I have fantastic team-mates who I’ve obviously known for a long time. That's why I'm sure I won’t have any problems settling in.”