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  • Writer's pictureTereza Černá

Factory drivers explained

Factory drivers are key factors when it comes to car development and are necessary when it comes to success in the GT world.

Factory drivers are drivers sponsored by a factory. They help with the development of the car, their teams, and support their manufacturer. The key difference between a factory driver and a customer driver is that factory drivers get paid to drive with their manufacturer, whereas customer drivers pay the manufacturer to race with their car.

Each car manufacturer has a number of their own factory drivers across Moto, GT, LMDh and TCR, it depends on a category they race in. A great example of GT factory drivers can be seen at Mercedes.

Mercedes separates their factory drivers into 3 categories: senior, junior, and standard, from which we see the standard drivers the most. They race in GTWC, Intercontinental GT, DTM and other GT championships, excluding WEC and ELMS.

The lists of 2022 Mercedes factory drivers consists of: Patrick Assenheimer, Lucas Auer, Maximilian Buhk, Adam Christodoulou, Philip Ellis, Maro Engel, Mikaël Grenier, Maximilian Götz, Jules Gounon, Thomas Jäger, Daniel Juncadella, Arjun Maini, Manuel Metzger, Raffaele Marciello, Daniel Morad, Fabian Schiller, Luca Stolz.

The drivers race for factory-supported teams and have greater recognition. For example, two Mercedes factory-supported cars came second and third in the overall standings of the 24 hours of Nurburgring, which not only increased the rating of the drivers but also brought greater money to Mercedes along with recognition and prestige.

Apart from racing, the drivers are also taking part in promotional activities, similarly to F1 drivers. As GT series are not as widespread as F1, they race in more categories and have to do less media work.

To end this basic explanation, some important factory drivers for other manufacturers include Laurens Vanthoor for Porsche, Christian Klien for McLaren, Daniel Abt for Audi and Sheldon van der Linde for BMW. Some drivers have factory support from more than one manufacturer, but are not official full factory drivers. Such drivers usually fill in customer cars as factory support.


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