Mercedes-Benz have announced their second new driver signing of the season, with 20-year-old Austrian Lucas Auer set to join the marque in the 2015 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM).
Following Monday’s announcement that Maximilian Götz will join the three-pointed star this season, Auer is the second new signing of the week for Mercedes, who will expand from seven to eight cars for 2015.
The news already means that at least one of the manufacturer’s drivers from the 2014 season will not be returning this year, with Spaniard Daniel Juncadella and Russian Vitaly Petrov rumoured to be at risk of losing their seat.
Auer joins the DTM from the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, where he raced for Prema Powerteam and Mücke Motorsport in the past two seasons, finishing fourth overall in both seasons. The young Austrian scored a total of four race wins and 22 podiums during that time, catching the attention of Mercedes-Benz.
“Joining the DTM is an important step in my career,” said Auer, who tested a Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 DTM in December 2014. “I’m very proud to be part of the Mercedes family. Testing towards the end of last year in Jerez de la Frontera was a fantastic experience. I can’t wait to get back in the car and continue preparations for my DTM debut.
“I would never have thought it a year ago, and I realise that it won’t be an easy task. The DTM is a top-class racing series with formidable opponents, but I’m willing to learn and ready to embark on this adventure. I intend to grab this chance at Mercedes‑Benz with both hands.”
Mercedes-Benz Head of Motorsport Toto Wolff says that Auer earned his graduation up to the DTM having performed strongly with Mercedes engines in F3 over the past couple of seasons.
“Lucas Auer has earned this opportunity with his performance in recent years,” said Wolff. “Our involvement in Formula 3 has enabled many drivers in the past to show that they are ready for the DTM, including Christian Vietoris and Pascal Wehrlein.
“We are continuing with our philosophy of giving young racing talent a chance to move up to the DTM and it is now apparent that both the Customer Sports Programme and Formula 3 can lead to that objective, as evidenced by Maximilian Götz and Lucas Auer. It’s all down in the end to the driver’s strength of purpose, his level of commitment and performance.”
Auer is the third Austrian to join the DTM grid since the series was resurrected in 2000 and he is also the 17th driver to graduate to the German series having raced with a Mercedes-Benz engine in F3.