Manor signs DTM champion Wehrlein as Mercedes-backed drivers land F1 roles
Mercedes-backed drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both secured Formula 1 chances this year, with Wehrlein joining Manor as its first race driver.
Wehrlein’s deal was announced last week. The 21-year-old became the youngest DTM champion last season when driving for Mercedes HWA. Wehrlein’s appointment strengthens Manor’s links to the German firm, which will supply its power units for 2015.
Wehrlein said: “Manor Racing is a great place for me to start my F1 racing career. 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 [Fitzpatrick, owner] and the guys achieve their goals.
“It will be a tough challenge, but we should be able to challenge for points along the way.”
Manor has yet to sign its second race driver, leaving that as the sole available seat on the grid. Briton Will Stevens has been linked with a return to the team.
Meanwhile, GP3 Series champion Ocon has joined Renault Sport F1 Team as its reserve driver, as well as racing in the DTM with Mercedes this year.
Mercedes head Toto Wolff said both Wehrlein and Ocon had earned their opportunities this year: “It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in F1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system.
“Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series. But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground.
“Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective F1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.”