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DTM NEWS 

Ralf Schumacher still 'key' to Mercedes DTM programme

Ralf SchumacherRalf Schumacher still has a key role to play in Mercedes' DTM programme, according to the manufacturer's motorsport chief Toto Wolff.

Schumacher, 37, was confirmed as one of Mercedes' six drivers for the coming season, keeping the seat despite the team's interest in Robert Kubica over the past month.

And Wolff believes that the six-time grand prix winner's experience will be crucial in aiding the development of the junior members of the line-up; Daniel Juncadella, Roberto Merhi, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens.

"The performance on-track is the most important thing, and we need to look at how he develops this year, how his results look and how the young guys will develop with him," Wolff told AUTOSPORT.

"He's going to play a very important role in getting the new kids out of the starting blocks well. I see him and his experience very much as a central role around his engagement."

"By myself, [HWA chief] Gerhard Ungar and [head of motorsport administration] Wolfgang Schattling choosing him, we guarantee that he has our full support."

Gary Paffett is the only DTM race winner competing for Mercedes this year following Jamie Green's winter move to rival manufacturer Audi.

But Wolff is not worried about the possibility that this will leave the squad lagging behind Audi and reigning champion manufacturer BMW.

Instead he is convinced of his line-up's potential for success in future seasons.

"I'm not going to be measured on whether we have high-profile drivers or ones who generate more press or less press," he said.

"This line-up is about balance as well as performance. I think we will do well."

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