Mahindra Formula E driver Pascal Wehrlein has been kept on as a simulator driver for Ferrari for the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship.
Pascal Wehrlein will stay on with Ferrari for a second consecutive season as a development and simulator driver. Having formerly driven for Manor Racing and Sauber during his brief Formula 1 racing career in 2016 and 2017 respectively, he found himself without a drive for 2018 and was subsequently released from the Mercedes driver programme.
Switching to Formula E, Wehrlein found a seat with Mahindra and also signed a contract to join Ferrari in a capacity as a development driver for Ferrari’s simulator programme at Maranello.
The simulator role is proving to be crucial these days, particularly in light of significantly reduced testing time for teams – F1 has just six days of pre-season testing for 2020, having had eight in recent years. In 2019, four drivers worked for Ferrari’s simulator programme: Wehrlein, Brendon Hartley, Antonio Fuoco and Davide Rigon. The team are yet to confirm if all four will continue for 2020, although it is likely.
“We still have experienced drivers for  in the simulator,” said Team Principal Mattia Binotto, during Ferrari’s Christmas lunch for media at Maranello last month. “So Pascal Wehrlein is staying with us [in 2020] but we’ve got as well other drivers who maybe are not so much experienced in Formula 1, but have done many years of simulator.”
“Our simulator drivers are very well integrated in the team… The simulator is more and more important, that’s why we will invest on the simulator in the future.”
Ferrari are working on a new and improved simulator for their base in Maranello, with Ferrari’s CEO Louis Camilleri explaining that good financial health on the road car side of the business is allowing for additional spend for the Formula 1 programme.
“We’re prepared to invest, and luckily the car business can support those investments, not only in terms of people, but also in terms of infrastructure. One example is [that we] are building a new simulator,” he said at their factory in Maranello.