Robert Wickens will leave the DTM and Mercedes-Benz to race in the IndyCar Series in 2018, joining Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in a return to single-seater racing.
The Canadian, who last raced full-time in single seaters in the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 Series, will leave the DTM after six years racing with Mercedes-Benz.
Wickens thus becomes the first of Mercedes’ long-term drivers to depart the manufacturer ahead of its withdrawal from the leading German tin-top series at the end of 2018.
“They were probably the best six years of my life,” said Wickens of his time racing with Mercedes-Benz, which yielded six victories. “It’s been the most amazing six years.”
Wickens added that his decision to leave came both in response to Mercedes’ impending departure as well as increased interest from IndyCar outfits.
“Until this season, I’d never really considered leaving Mercedes or the DTM. But first off, I can’t thank Mercedes enough for the last six years and wish them the best of luck for the future. It’s probably been the best six years of my entire life.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs on the way but have never had so much support from a team before,” said Robert. “It’s been an honour to represent the brand and maybe it’s not the last time.”
Wickens is looking forward to the next chapter in his racing career, as he takes on the competitive North American scene.
“It’s going to be a very steep learning curve,” he added. “A lot of things will be completely new to me. I’ve never driven on an oval before. As everyone knows, I haven’t been driving formula cars over the last six years since I’ve been in DTM, so I have to get up to speed very quickly but am looking forward to the new challenge.”
Mercedes-AMG’s Head of DTM Ulrich Fritz admitted that it was a shame to lose the 28-year-old, who has claimed 15 podiums for the three-pointed star.
“I’m pretty certain that he’ll put his stamp on this series as well,” said Fritz. “It’s obviously a big pity that Rob is leaving us. With him, we’re losing both a great driver and a terrific person.
“Rob has been an important member of our team over the past six years. He’s steadily improved during the last few years and has become an integral part of the DTM.
“Although his departure obviously makes us feel sad, we are, nevertheless, pleased for him. The IndyCar series will definitely be a great experience for Rob, and I’m sure he will put his stamp on this series as well.”