Former Mercedes young driver Pascal Wehrlein has split from the German marque, after failing to land a competitive drive since departing F1.
Pascal Wehrlein had been part of the Mercedes program since 2012, arriving in F1 with the Manor team in 2016. Two largely unsuccessful seasons followed, with Wehrlein swapping to Sauber for 2017. However, he was bypassed for a seat in 2018 as Charles Leclerc arrived on the scene with Ferrari backing.
Returning to DTM for this year with Mercedes, the German team are departing the series at the end of this year and, as a result, Merc have opted to release him rather than keep him within their motorsport program.
“Our junior programme has always been about supporting young talent and finding opportunities that are in the best interests of the drivers’ careers.” explained Toto Wolff. “It is not always a straight path to the top – and sometimes we have to recognise that it is the right time to end a relationship, too.”
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t offer Pascal a competitive drive for next year. In his best interests, we have therefore decided together with Pascal not to extend our agreement and to give him the best chance of securing an opportunity elsewhere that his talent merits. We want to thank him for his fantastic performances for Mercedes-Benz in recent years and wish him all the best for the future.”
Wehrlein has been linked to a return to F1, possibly with the Toro Rosso team as Red Bull seek to find some young drivers to sign up to their program. Formula E is also a possibility, as he is understood to have carried out a test of Mahindra’s new Gen2 car. However, his release from Mercedes means he is logically not one of the contenders for one of the new HWA seats as the Mercedes affiliate join the series this year.
“I will part ways with Mercedes-Benz at the end of 2018.” explained Wehrlein on his Instagram page.
“My contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the 2018 season and we have jointly decided not to continue further together. I am looking for new challenges and opportunities, and am currently talking to other teams about a cockpit for next season.”
“I am very grateful for all the support Mercedes has offered me – from my first meeting with Gerhard Ungar and Norbert Haug in 2012, to the decision with Toto to join DTM instead of F3 in 2013, through to my title in 2015; it was a dream come true for a kid who grew up an hour from Stuttgart.”
“That opened the door to Formula 1, first with Manor and then Sauber; the points I scored with both teams were huge moments. Thank you to everybody in Stuttgart, Affalterbach and Brackley who has supported me along the way. And now it’s time to take my next step.”