Manager Classic Communications
Tel:+49 151 58610215
Manager Classic Communications
Tel: +49 151 58610215
- Happy birthday to DTM champions Gary Paffett and Paul Di°Resta
- Ricardo Zonta claimed the 1998 FIA-GT championship – he remains active in motorsport to this day
- Alfred Neubauer was born 130 years ago
Stuttgart. Congratulations! No less than four racing drivers who claimed victories in various eras at the wheel of Mercedes-Benz vehicles will be celebrating milestone birthdays this spring. Legendary race director Alfred Neubauer was born 130 years ago – he launched his career as a racing driver. Mercedes-Benz Classic also sends congratulations to DTM champions Paul Di°Resta (35) and Gary Paffett (40) and to FIA-GT champion Ricardo Zonta (45).
23 March 2021: Ricardo Zonta turns 45
The Brazilian, born in 1976, celebrated the greatest success of his racing career with the FIA-GT championship title. On 25 October 1998, he and Klaus Ludwig secured the drivers’ title in Laguna Seca at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-LM. The duo Klaus Ludwig / Ricardo Zonta had already crossed the finish line ahead of the competition at the season’s first race in Oschersleben. The DTM champion and Le Mans winner said about his younger, Brazilian colleague: “We have uncovered a new diamond.” In 1997 and 1998 AMG-Mercedes competed in the new FIA-GT championship, claiming the drivers’ and team championship in both years.
Zonta’s title in 1998 contributed to his promotion to Formula One in which he raced between 1999 and 2005. At the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps in 2000, he was at the centre of one of the most spectacular overtaking manoeuvres of Formula One history when his BAR-Honda was overtaken by Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Mika Häkkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) at the same time. The leading Schumacher passed him on the left while Häkkinen overtook on the right and took the lead, which he carried to the finish line. Following his stint in Formula One, Zonta remains a racing driver in series including “Stock Car Brasil”. He is also competing in this series in 2021.
24 March 2021: Gary Paffett turns 40
Englishman Gary Paffett, born in 1981, is amongst DTM’s most successful drivers. He was crowned 2005 and 2018 DTM champion at the wheel of Mercedes-Benz racing touring cars and finished as the championship runner-up four times (2004, 2009, 2010 and 2012). He competed for the brand over 15 seasons – marking half of Mercedes-Benz and AMG’s thirty-year history in this international touring car series. With 23 victories and 48 podium finishes, Paffett ranks fourth on the all-time DTM winners’ list, headed up by Mercedes-Benz works driver Bernd Schneider.
Paffett started competing in motorsport at the age of eight when his father gifted him a kart. He consistently pursued his career, winning the German Formula Three championship at the age of 21 and moving up into DTM in 2003. Parallel to his DTM career, Paffett also spent a few years working as a test driver for the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team. He started for the HWA Racelab team in the 2018/2019 FIA Formula E championship. In 2020, he shared his experience on and off the race track as a sport and technology consultant and as a replacement and development driver on the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team.
29 March 2021: Alfred Neubauer would have turned 130
Motorsport history’s first ever racing director revolutionised racing from 1926. In the initial years from 1894, drivers were left to their own devices. Before crossing the finish line, they often weren’t even aware of their ranking in the race. Alfred Neubauer changed that, having been a racing driver for Austro-Daimler and Mercedes himself when he was younger. In 1926, he was the first to give his drivers tactical instructions using boards and flags as they raced along the Solitude race track near Stuttgart. He would go on to meticulously prepare the Mercedes-Benz racing team for each race.
Neubauer was born in 1891 in Neutitschein (now Nový Jičín, Czech Republic). In 1923, he moved from Austro-Daimler to Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft together with Ferdinand Porsche. As racing director, Neubauer celebrated his greatest successes with the Silver Arrows between 1934 and 1939 and in 1954/1955, becoming a legend. He led drivers including Rudolf Caracciola, Hermann Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and later also Juan-Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss to great victories. Neubauer died aged 89 on 21 August 1980 in Aldingen, south of Stuttgart.
16 April 2021: Paul Di°Resta turns 35
For years Scotsman Paul Di°Resta was one of the top drivers in the DTM touring car racing championships. He claimed eleven victories between 2007 and 2010 as well as from 2014 to 2018 for Mercedes-Benz teams Persson, AMG and HWA. Di°Resta was crowned DTM champion in 2010, he finished runner-up in the 2008 championship and third in the drivers’ championship in 2009 and 2018. Supported by Mercedes-Benz, he raced in Formula One for Force India between 2011 and 2013, collecting 121 world championship points.
The racing driver with Italian heritage, born in 1986 in Uphall (Scotland), stems from a motoring family. His cousins include Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and his brother Marino. In 1995 and 1996, Dario Franchitti was successful for Mercedes-Benz in DTM. He would go on to use his great contacts to the brand and support Di°Resta, back then reigning Formula Three Euro Series champion, in his rise to touring car motorsport. Paul Di°Resta’s competitive goals remain ambitious: the driver, well established in the endurance world championship, will start at the 2022 Le Mans 24-hour race in the hypercar category.