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DTM champ Pascal Wehrlein secures F1 drive for 2016
Manor Racing confirm deal with Mercedes' 2015 touring car champion
Mercedes-Benz’s 2015 DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein will race in Formula One this season after signing a one-year contract with backmarkers Manor Racing.
The 21-year-old German retains his ties with Mercedes, who are effectively loaning him out to get experience in the sport following his 12-month stint as understudy to Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as the Brackley team’s reserve driver.
“Manor Racing is a great place for me to start my Formula One racing career - I’m very pleased to be here,” said Wehrlein. “It will be a tough challenge but I think we should be able to challenge for points along the way.
“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.”
Manor’s prospects for the forthcoming year look promising following a write-off of a season in 2015, during which their best finish was 12th place at the British and US Grands Prix. The Banbury outfit has agreed a technical partnership with Williams and will run the latest spec Mercedes engines at the season opener in Australia next month.
Manor owner Stephen Fitzpatrick will hope that the move pays off given that the team has a more realistic chance of points this year. “We’re a small team up for a big challenge this season,” he said. “So we’ve chosen a driver with the talent and hunger to match our own on-track ambitions.
“Manor Racing is perfectly placed to help Pascal make a big impact in his first season. We’re looking forward to it!”
There’s no word yet on whom Wehrlein’s teammate will be, although last year’s drivers Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens are thought to be in contention, as is GP2 driver Rio Haryanto.
The first pre-season test will take place in Barcelona in just under a fortnight’s time.