By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Pascal Wehrlein has signed a deal to race with Manor Racing for the 2016 Formula One season.
The Mercedes-backed driver won the DTM title last season and also spent time as a test driver for Mercedes, benefiting from six days of testing between the works team and Force India. Wehrlein, 21, impressed in testing and throughout his DTM campaign, becoming the youngest champion in its history. The early success and poise the German has displayed thus far made a move to F1 just seem like a matter of when, not if.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, the owner of Manor Racing, talked about having Wehrlein fill one of his race seats.
“Pascal is a sharp driver with a very promising future; Manor Racing is excited to have him aboard,” said Fitzpatrick in a team release. “We’re a small team up for a big challenge this season, so we’ve chosen a driver with the talent and hunger to match our own on-track ambitions. Pascal has impressed in testing for Mercedes and Force India, together with commanding performances in DTM, culminating in the championship win last year. Manor Racing is perfectly placed to help Pascal make a big impact in his first season. We’re looking forward to it!”
Following a deal that has Mercedes providing engines to Manor for 2016, the move for Wehrlein appears to be a natural fit for both teams.
“Manor Racing is a great place for me to start my Formula One racing career – I’m very pleased to be here,” said Wehrlein in a team release. “It’s a small and totally focused team and I soon hope to know everyone. Though it’s my first F1 season my aim is to help Stephen and the guys achieve their goals. It will be a tough challenge but I think we should be able to challenge for points along the way. It’s going to be good fun. A word for my racing family at Mercedes-Benz, and particularly for Toto [Wolff], who have guided my career this far and made this opportunity possible. Thanks for the incredible support to help me achieve my dream; now it’s down to me to grab the moment and perform on track.”