Mercedes driver Juncadella wants to stay in DTM after backer quits

Mercedes driver Daniel Juncadella wants to remain in the DTM after the marque exit the series at the end of 2018

Mercedes driver Juncadella wants to stay in DTM after backer quits

Juncadella joined Mercedes' DTM line-up in 2013 but never finished higher than 16th in the standings and, after a barren four seasons, was dropped for '17.

He was then drafted back into its line-up for this year and, since returning, the ex-Force India Formula 1 reserve driver has scored two poles, and clinched his first victory in last weekend's first race at Brands Hatch.

The Spaniard said he wanted to stay in the series next season, despite his backer's impending departure.

"They are pulling out and I've been clearly saying that I want to stay in the DTM," he told Autosport. "I want to race in the DTM.

"I've been enjoying it this year so it's great to show myself a bit because I know I don't have a great shot at the championship at the moment so we go race by race."

Audi motorsport head Dieter Gass said proposals for customer teams to join the DTM meant he was not looking at Juncadella or any other Mercedes drivers for 2019.

"If I manage to achieve [independent teams and customer cars], I won't really have an influence on the drivers," said Gass.

"It'll be up to the team to select the drivers. That means currently I'm not looking at any of those [Mercedes] drivers."

Juncadella has tested twice for Formula E outfit Mahindra in the past 12 months - once in pre-season testing at Valencia and then in January in Marrakech - but added he was not in serious contention to join the series.

"I haven't been in touch with Mahindra, honestly," he added. "I know I am on the shortlist but I was not the first preference.

"I don't have much experience in Formula E and they are looking for experienced guys out there."

Juncadella's performance 'on another planet'

Mercedes DTM boss Ulrich Fritz said Juncadella was "on another planet" on his way to winning the opening race at Brands Hatch.

Juncadella faced being replaced by reserve driver Christian Vietoris after breaking his collarbone in a pre-season cycling incident that threatened to sideline him for "half a season".

Despite a slow start from pole at Brands, which meant he dropped to third on the first lap, Juncadella recovered to win convincingly by 7.9 seconds.

Fritz said: "He was just driving on another planet compared to anybody else on the grid and he deserved his victory.

"I think we've seen him stronger than he ever was in DTM, he came back with a lot of self-confidence.

"He just showed that all this trust we had in him is worth it."

Juncadella said it ranked as "one of the best days of my racing career".

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