The sort of fanfare that came with Gary Paffett's new Mercedes contract this week is something that never usually surrounds a simple contract renewal in the DTM, even when the three-pointed star signs new deals with big name ex-Formula 1 stars.
But this wasn't a case of Stuttgart purely over-egging a small piece of news in the hope of grabbing a few additional headlines. This was a line being drawn in the sand as the DTM driver market prepares to burst into life like never before.
Since the beginning of 2006, Audi and Mercedes have had the DTM all to themselves. During that time, no driver has moved directly from one marque to the other. That has been partly down to a gentlemans' agreement that is effectively in place between the two manufacturers - if they don't poach from each other, there is no real market for the drivers to use to their advantage, making it much easier to control salaries.
But that is all changing now BMW is preparing to rejoin this arena for the first time since 1992. The third element of the DTM's 2012 German love triangle knows that it will need some current DTM expertise within its ranks, and since last year it has been on an aggressive recruitment push for drivers and team personnel.
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