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Ralf Schumacher to race in DTM

February 18, 2008 22:47 IST

Ralf Schumacher will race for Mercedes in this season's German Touring Car (DTM) championship after leaving Formula One last year, the carmaker said on Monday.

The 32-year-old, younger brother of seven times Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, will make his debut in the series at Hockenheim on April 13.

"I like the series, I like the environment, I like the enthusiastic and positive spectators," said Schumacher, whose six grand prix wins make him Germany's second most successful Formula One driver after Michael.

"And I like Mercedes -- with them I got my first chance to test a Formula One car in 1996 and who knows how my Formula One career had turned out if I had accepted the McLaren Mercedes offer to become their test driver for 1997.

"But then I wanted to drive races and that's still what I want today, more than 10 years later," Schumacher, who made his F1 debut with Jordan in 1997, added in a statement.

The German, who was one of the highest paid drivers in Formula One when he moved to Toyota, left the Cologne-based team after a lacklustre few years that failed to enhance his reputation after winning races with Williams.

Despite his assertion that he would be in Formula One this year, he failed to find a drive.

"Of course I know that neither the media nor the spectators consider me the greatest race driver of all time and this is not what I'm aiming for," he said.

"I will learn in the DTM, I will work hard and will put it behind me if people criticise me should I have problems during the first couple of races."

Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug expected Schumacher, whose older brother once raced for the Mercedes sportscar team, to create a positive new image for himself in DTM.

"I think that in his first year in the DTM this will not be based on his results but on his commitment to fight (in a) sportsmanlike (way), hard and fair," he said, adding that the driver had not asked for any special status in the team.

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