To this day, Bernd Schneider is proud of the honorary title “Mister DTM”. He still leads the statistics of this outstanding touring car racing series with a total of five DTM Championship titles. In 226 races at the wheel of Mercedes-Benz touring cars, he claimed 43 victories and finished on the podium one hundred times.
The racing driver, born in St. Ingbert in southwest Germany in 1964, claimed his first championship in 1995, back when the DTM was still officially known as the Deutsche Tourenwagen-Meisterschaft (German touring car championship). At the German Touring Car Masters, held since 2000, the Mercedes-AMG Brand Ambassador won the title in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006. In 1997, which was a year without DTM competitions, Schneider finished in first place at the FIA GT World Championship in the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR.
2001 was a particularly successful year for Schneider. It marked the first time in DTM’s eventful history that a racing driver was able to retain the title, and the reigning champion did so very convincingly. “It’s hard to believe,” Schneider says, looking back, “on nine of the ten weekends, I was on the podium at least once, claiming my third title no less than two races before the end of the season.” In other words: in a total of 20 heats, the Mercedes-Benz works driver finished first in six, was the runner-up four times and came third four times.
In 2001, Mercedes-Benz’s performance was so superior, the four drivers in Hans Werner Aufrecht’s AMG team finished in the top four championship places in the following order: Bernd Schneider, Uwe Alzen, Peter Dumbreck and Marcel Fässler. “I was no less than 60 points ahead of Uwe Alzen,” Schneider noted about his championship finish with 161 points.
Bernd Schneider was already very keen to compete in karting races at the tender age of five. “My dad Horst fostered my talents from an early age, he invested a lot in my career and kept believing in me, I have to admit, that was great!” Schneider explains. Claiming national and international karting success, his career took him to Formula Ford, Formula Three and ultimately Formula One.
Ahead of the 1990 season Schneider was suddenly left without a place in a racing cockpit and initially raced in sports car races for various teams. In 1991, the racing driver was chatting to Norbert Haug, back then the new head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. He said to him: “Bernd, you definitely need to compete in the DTM.” This resulted in the DTM rookie finishing third in his first DTM season in 1992 with four race wins at the wheel of the AMG Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (W 201), hot on the heels of his Mercedes-Benz teammates Klaus Ludwig and Kurt Thiim.
Source: Motorsport history of Mercedes-Benz – Newslettter 3/2021 (Dated 9th September 2021)