Pascal Wehrlein, the newest and youngest race winner in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, has been announced as the new reserve driver for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
Wehrlein, 19, became the youngest-ever polesitter and race winner in the DTM at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, taking victory in his 18th race in the series.
Now, following a successful Young Driver Evaluation test conducted last Thursday 11 September at the Autodrómo Internacional Algarve in Portimao, Wehrlein will become the official reserve driver for the F1 team.
It marks another step in the hugely successful career of the touring car youngster, who finished runner up to Daniel Juncadella in the 2012 Formula 3 Euro Series in 2012. He then graduated to the DTM in 2013 and became the youngest driver in the series’ history at just 18 years old.
“I was delighted when I learned that I would be completing a Formula One test for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in Portimao,” said Wehrlein. “It took me a few laps to get used to the incredible speed, the very hard brakes and the high cornering speeds – it’s in another league compared to the DTM. But I adapted quickly and was able to improve in each of my short and long runs.
“In total, I drove 500 km and didn’t want to head back into the pits! The test was simply the greatest experience I have had so far in motorsport. There weren’t any nerves, which surprised me – I just felt ready for it.
“The feedback from the team and from Toto was very encouraging and I think that I did a good job. It certainly helped that I have been working hard in the simulator since February. For me, it is a nice recognition of my efforts that I have been nominated as reserve driver for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS.
“For me, it’s a dream come true to have completed this test and now to take on my new role. All my life, I have worked hard to get the opportunity to drive an F1 car. And it was always my goal to do it with Mercedes-Benz.”
Mercedes-Benz Head of Motorsport Toto Wolff says the decision came in part due to the familiarity the German has with the procedures of the team’s car.
“We are delighted to officially welcome Pascal to the team after his successful test last week in Portugal,” said Wolff. “He has worked hard behind the scenes this year in our simulator, playing a very important role in our pre-race preparations. Aside from Nico and Lewis, he is the driver most familiar with all the procedures of our F1 W05 Hybrid and therefore the right choice for the role of reserve driver.
“He took an important step last week when he drove a Formula One car for the first time – and we were pleased to see him deliver a composed and impressive test, in line with our expectations. This was followed by a fantastic win yesterday at the Lausitzring in the DTM, making the most of conditions where pure driving talent was able to shine. Pascal has a bright future ahead of him and we are excited to have him on-board for what will be an intense conclusion to the Formula One season.”