Wehrlein wants to use DTM drive to secure F1 return

Date published: February 8 2018

Pascal Wehrlein may have signed up for a DTM drive, however, the German says he is targeting a return to the Formula 1 grid come 2019.

Having lost his Sauber seat at the end of last year’s championship, the 23-year-old will return to DTM for this year’s campaign, racing for Mercedes.

And while the former DTM champ has vowed to give it his all, he is doing so with an eye to racing in F1 come 2019.

Asked if spending a season in the touring car series could help him get back into F1, he replied: “I think so.

“If I can be strong from the beginning, it could put me in a better position.

“But I haven’t thought much about that. I just want to give my best this year.

“Then hopefully I will be in a good position next year.”

Mercedes confirm Wehrlein’s DTM return

Date published: February 7 2018

Mercedes have confirmed that Pascal Wehrlein will be returning to DTM for their final year in the series before switching their attention to Formula E.

Wehrlein found himself without a seat on the Formula 1 grid for 2018 after being ditched by Sauber in favour of rising Ferrari star Charles Leclerc.

And now he will return to the series where he won the title back in 2015 before he made his big break into Formula 1 with Manor Racing.

“I’ve got some terrific memories of the DTM,” said Wehrlein via the official Mercedes website.

“Not least because of my title win in 2015, but also because of the strong team spirit and the many amazing experiences I’ve had with the guys.

“I’ve followed DTM closely during my time in Formula 1 and have even been to a couple of the races to see the team and support them.

“A lot has changed in the DTM since my last race at Hockenheim, but I like a challenge and can hardly wait to try out the new car on track for the first time.

Wehrlein will be joining fellow DTM championship winners Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta at Mercedes DTM, with the latter also failing to land a seat on the 2018 grid in Formula 1.

Wehrlein offered Mercedes test driver role

Date published: January 26 2018

Mercedes are not ready to pull the plug completely on Pascal Wehrlein’s Formula 1 future and have offered him the test driver role for the 2018 season.

The German did not have his contract with Sauber renewed at the end of the 2017 campaign as the Swiss team took F2 world champion Charles Leclerc on board as part of their reinforced relationship with Ferrari.

Marcus Ericsson’s strong connections with Sauber’s owners ensured he remained in the other seat, leaving Wehrlein out in the cold after only being a minor contender for the last vacant role at Williams, which was eventually filled by Sergey Sirotkin.

Wehrlein has been rumoured to return to DTM with Mercedes, but he now has a lifeline to keep his Formula 1 career alive.

“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.”

Wehrlein will ‘remain part’ of Mercedes

Date published: January 11 2018

Pascal Wehrlein’s F1 racing career may be over for now but there is some good news with Toto Wolff adamant he will “remain part” of the Mercedes squad.

Wehrlein was dropped at the end of the 2017 season, losing his Sauber race-seat to Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc.

Although he had hoped to enter the fray for the final available seat at Williams, that did not come to fruition.

As such Wehrlein is without a race-seat for the 2018 season, however, Wolff says he will continue to play a role in the Mercedes team.

“Pascal definitely deserves a place in Formula 1 and is certainly one of the fastest drivers,” the motorsport boss told Motorsport.com.

“At the moment it looks a little bit bitter as far as the available [race] driver seats are concerned.

“But he’s definitely going to be on our team.

“[It is unclear] whether or not he actively participates in a racing series other than Formula 1.

“He will definitely remain part of our squad.”

Wehrlein weighing up return to DTM

Date published: December 21 2017

Pascal Wehrlein is considering a return to DTM with Mercedes in 2018 after Sauber opted not to renew his contract, according to reports.

Autosport believe both he and former F3 champion Dani Juncadella, who has tested for Williams and Force India in the past, are the main contenders for the role but there is a possibility that Wehrlein could look to secure a third driver role in Formula 1 instead.

Wehrlein finds himself without a seat in Formula 1 next season as Sauber decided to keep Marcus Ericsson and pair him up with Ferrari’s rising star Charles Leclerc.

Wehrlein does remain in a partnership with Mercedes, but the Silver Arrows were not prepared to give him the chance to partner Lewis Hamilton as the German is still not the finished article.

He also does not appear to be in contention for the final vacant seat at Williams, who look to set to choose between Sergey Sirotkin, Daniil Kvyat and Robert Kubica in January.

If Wehrlein was to return to DTM with Mercedes, he would find himself in a similiar situation as he is now because the Silver Arrows are leaving the sport altogether at the end of the 2018 season in preparation for their move into Formula E.

Wehrlein spent three years in DTM before making the step up to Formula 1 with Manor Racing, winning the title with Mercedes in 2015.

Wolff bemoans Wehrlein’s Formula 1 exit

Date published: December 14 2017

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said that Pascal Wehrlein “deserves” to be in Formula 1 and it is a “shame” that he finds himself with no seat for 2018.

Wehrlein was shown the door at Sauber as they opted to retain Marcus Ericsson and replace Wehrlein with Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc as part of their new partnership with the Scuderia.

Wehrlein is part of Mercedes’ driver programme and a lack of sponsorship meant he was a bad fit for the Swiss team, who he secured all five World Championship points for in 2017.

Wehrlein has since been linked with the final vacant seat at Williams but, with an announcement now imminent, Wehrlein is not in contention and will have to race in another series in 2018.

“Pascal deserves to be in Formula One,” Wolff told Italy’s Corriere dello Sport. “He’s an excellent driver.

“He’s not in an easy position because there are no seats open to him.

“It’s a shame, because he has the potential to win and his performances on the track have been exceptional.”

While Wolff praised Wehrlein’s talents, he was reluctant to giving Wehrlein an opportunity at Mercedes in the near future as they need drivers that are finished articles.

Wolff said: “Our goal is to find the new Lewis Hamilton, which is not easy because he is at a very high level.

“Our strategy is to hire quick drivers who already have experience. Mercedes is not a place to learn.

“Those who arrive here must already be a complete driver.”

Wehrlein: Sauber car masked my performances

Date published: December 10 2017

Pascal Wehrlein feels that the Sauber car prevented him from showing his true potential as he faces the prospect of his Formula 1 career being cut short.

Wehrlein scored all five of Sauber’s World Championship points in 2017, but the Swiss team have opted to pair Marcus Ericsson with Charles Leclerc for the 2018 season.

The decision leaves Wehrlein on the sidelines and is only considered an outside shot for the final vacant seat at Williams next year, but he is adamant that he always tried the best he can despite knowing his Formula 1 future was in serious doubt.

“I was always giving my best,” Wehrlein said. “I think that’s the most important thing you can say about yourself. When the opportunity was there we took it.

“You can always do things better. With more experience you think, ‘Ahh, one or two races ago I was doing this direction with the set-up. Now I know this was worse, I should have gone in this direction’.

“You always learn something. But I can definitely say I was always giving my best.”

Wehrlein also believes that he could have made more of a name for himself but Sauber’s car, packed with a one-year-old Ferrari engine, stopped him from standing out from the crowd.

“In the second half the gap was a few times too big,” he added. “Even if we had a good race in the second half of the season, you couldn’t see it as the gap was too big.

“For example at Suzuka I was lapped by the second last guy. What can you do there?”

“[We] scored five points when we could score points, that’s important. But probably in the second half of the season I had better races but you couldn’t see it.

“Malaysia was one of them, we were close to Q2 and the race was quite good.

“[Brazil] was quite good in terms of performance. There we were not so far from Q2 I think, just one or two tenths.”