The Mercedes Formula 1 team has finally appointed a reserve driver to replace the departed Sam Bird, announcing that teenage DTM race-winner Pascal Wehrlein will join the team with immediate effect.
The 19-year-old has been working with the team for much of the year in between his DTM outings with Mercedes’ HWA Team, completing a total of 30 days in the team’s simulator at its Brackley headquarters.
Wehrlein has already had the chance to sample actual F1 machinery for the first time on Thursday, driving a 2012-spec Mercedes F1W03 at Portugal’s Algarve International Circuit as part of a Young Driver Evaluation day. He then went on to claim his first DTM race win last weekend at the championship’s visit to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz.
“It is a nice recognition of my efforts that I have been nominated as reserve driver for Mercedes,” Wehrlein said. “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.”
“We are delighted to officially welcome Pascal to the team. He has worked hard behind the scenes this year in our simulator, playing a very important role in our pre-race preparations,” added Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“He took an important step when he drove a Formula 1 car for the first time – and we were pleased to see him deliver a composed and impressive test, in line with our expectations.”
Born in Sigmaringen, Germany, Wehrlein holds dual German and Mauritian nationalities. Contesting his second DTM season this year, Wehrlein won the ADAC Formel Masters title in 2011 and finished runner-up to current Force India F1 reserve driver Daniel Juncadella in the Formula 3 Euro Series a year later.
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