Model Franziska Knuppe about cars, the DTM and She’s Mercedes

The first time I rode in a DTM touring car many years ago, I kept my eyes closed almost the whole time. That’s how frightened I was back then.

But today, when I’m allowed to take a “taxi ride,” as I recently did in Hockenheim, it’s completely different: I love to bomb down the track in a racing taxi. During my last ride with Bernd Mayländer I was sitting in the car and grinning like a kid the whole time.

Yes, I do look sceptical in this picture… But I really had fun during my taxiride with Bernd Maylaender (r.)!

Whether it’s a DTM or a private car, I basically love automobiles — fast ones especially. For me, the track we’re on is not so important, although I’ve gathered some driving experience myself in a Mercedes-AMG C 63 on the Hockenheimring. What I enjoy most is the extremely sharp curves! My husband and I have often been at the DTM as spectators, for example in Zandvoort in the Netherlands and on the Norisring — that time I was even heavily pregnant. My daughter, who is now 11, was exposed to motorsports early on, because her parents are so crazy about it.

For us, it all began 20 years ago with the Formula One races in the Michael Schumacher era. We watched the Formula One races every weekend — and I really mean every single weekend! At some point we switched to watching the DTM. I admit that when you’re starting your own family, other things naturally move into the foreground at first. But now the DTM fever is back. Our daughter is now old enough to be taken along to the racetrack. And of course she’s just as excited as we are to be close to the action in the pit lane.

Thore Schoelermann, Laura Wontorra, me, David Coulthard, Oliver Pocher and Bernd Schneider (v.l.n.r.)

On DTM days, what I especially like is the feeling I get when we arrive at the track. The crowds of excited people who are spending their whole weekend at the racetrack — you feel their enthusiasm for motorsports immediately. I think it’s great to see the passion that drives them to travel along with the racing circus and to develop this special love that only a fan can feel. On a DTM racing weekend, everybody around you is simply beaming!

Ultimately it’s “only” about cars. But we Germans simply have a very intimate relationship with automobiles. In many other countries, cars are simply a means of transportation. In Paris, practically every car you see has dents in it, and nobody cares. We Germans, by contrast, wash our cars on Sundays, and if anybody puts a dent in our car, we act as though it’s the end of the world.

In spite of our passion for horsepower, my husband and I don’t own a sports car — we drive a Mercedes-AMG G 63. If you want to, you can also drive this model extremely fast. I like to do that once in a while — always following the traffic rules, of course. But the main thing is that I feel extremely safe in my G, and I like driving it, even over long distances. Frankly, I’m a lot better at driving myself than at being a passenger — I like to be a backseat driver giving unnecessary advice. But doesn’t everybody do that?

My connection with Mercedes is based not only on my passion for cars and for DTM but also on my long partnership with it as a brand ambassador. This collaboration has opened up many new opportunities for me and taken me from Fashion Weeks to soccer tournaments and racetracks. About 15 years ago, there were so few women at the tracks on racing weekends that I practically knew all of them. But by now that has changed completely, and I’m really happy about that.

These two worlds seem very different at first glance, but the She’s Mercedes initiative connects them. The point of contact is the car, but in parallel the initiative also publicizes successful women who have started their own companies or are realizing their own projects, for example.

A pitstop with Mercedes- and DTM-Pilot Maro Engel (l.)

She’s Mercedes aims to show how women can support one another. Through the brand, Mercedes brings together interesting women from various fields such as culture, science, business careers, and fashion and creates a platform for networking. If some of them eventually discover their inner passion for motorsports, as I have, I can completely understand that.

Franziska Knuppe is a German model and brand ambassador for She's Mercedes.