Nineteen-year-old German racer Pascal Wehrlein has been confirmed as the reserve driver for the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team.
The youngest DTM race winner in history has been announced to be the understudy to regular race drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, and has already performed over 12,000km of testing within the Mercedes F1 W05 simulator.
The German also drove a F1 car for the first time at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve circuit in Portugal as part of a Young Driver Evaluation test, completing 109 laps and impressing the team enough to promote him to the role of reserve driver, with his duties beginning this weekend when he travels with the team to the Singapore Grand Prix.
“I was delighted when I learned that I would be completing a Formula One test for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in Portimao,” said a happy 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.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff welcomed Wehrlein to the team, and feels the German has a bright future ahead of him in motorsport after the simulator work and the successful test for the team in Portugal.
“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 onboard for what will be an intense conclusion to the Formula One season.”