Sport Mercedes DTM driver roster set for major shake-up in 2022

14:01  22 january  2022
14:01  22 january  2022 Source:   autosport.com

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Mercedes made a successful return to the DTM in 2021 with its customer racing arm, winning both the drivers and manufacturers’ title against strong opposition from Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

A whole host of works drivers and factory-supported cars will aim to ensure the Stuttgart brand remains at the front in 2022, although several major changes are expected in its roster for the DTM's second season under GT3 regulations.

Most notably, Gotz is poised to leave the HRT team with which he won his maiden title last year despite the two parties having previously been keen on continuing their partnership into 2022.

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The 36-year-old is now expected to join forces with Team Winward, partnering seven-time race winner Lucas Auer - who incidentally gave up the race lead at Norisring to allow him to snatch the title from Liam Lawson.

Gotz’s 2021 teammate Vincent Abril has already split with Mercedes in favour of a GT World Challenge drive with JP Motorsport McLaren, paving the way for an all new line-up at Hubert Haupt’s eponymous squad.

Leading the HRT outfit would be GTWCE Endurance and Sprint Cup champion Stolz, who made a strong impression in a wildcard DTM outing at the Nurburgring last year with the Toksport team.

Stolz is expected to be joined by 2021 GetSpeed Mercedes driver Arjun Maini, who has already began preparations for a switch to HRT by signing up for an Asian Le Mans programme with team owner Haupt.

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Maximilian Götz, Haupt Racing Team © Autosport.com Maximilian Götz, Haupt Racing Team

Maximilian Götz, Haupt Racing Team

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Stolz’s former GT Masters teammate Engel is another driver expected to return to the grid and is being lined up for the second seat at the expanded GruppeM squad.

Engel raced for Mucke Motorsport in the DTM between 2008-11 and returned to the series in 2017 with HWA, scoring his only victory in Moscow during his comeback season.

Engel is likely to be partnered by Spanish racer Daniel Juncadella, who is believed to have impressed the GruppeM outfit during their maiden season together in 2021.

With Stolz and Engel joining full-time, one-time race winner Philip Ellis will be departing the DTM after just a single year in the category.

Having scored a GTD class victory on his maiden participation in the Rolex 24 in 2021, Ellis will be returning to the US for a title assault in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Winward.

There are currently three clashes between IMSA and DTM’s 2022 calendars, preventing Ellis from pulling off a dual campaign on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mercedes' expected driver line-up in 2022

HRT: Luca Stolz, Arjun Maini

GruppeM: Maro Engel, Daniel Juncadella

Winward: Lucas Auer, Maximilian Gotz

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