By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Mercedes has revealed its plans to continue to support Pascal Wehrlein for the upcoming season despite not finding a place on the 2018 Formula 1 grid.
The 23-year-old German captured the DTM championship in 2015, which helped elevate him in the Mercedes program and into a seat at Manor the following year. He managed to score Manor’s only point of the season with a 10th-place effort in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Moving to Sauber in 2017, Wehrlein wasn’t able to contend a Grand Prix until the third race of the season due to a neck injury he sustained in a crash during Race of Champions in Miami. However, he put together a career-best of eighth in the fifth race of the season in Spain, followed by a 10th in Baku, all despite Sauber running an outdated Ferrari power unit.
The offseason saw Ferrari elevate its backing of the Switzerland-based outfit as they were re-branded Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. The increased involvement of the Italian juggernaut elevated FIA Formula 2 champion and Ferrari junior driver Charles Leclerc to a seat at Sauber for this upcoming season, and pushing Wehrlein out.
Although a race seat isn’t in the cards this year, Wehrlein will apparently still have a chance to keep busy.
“We have supported Pascal since 2013 and he earned his chance in Formula 1 after his DTM victory in 2015,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sport Bild.
“After that, he experienced two not so easy years in formula one with Manor and Sauber.
“But we will keep him in our racing family in 2018 and also offer him a role as F1 test driver at Mercedes, to keep his door open to formula one for 2019.”