Following the news that Pascal Wehrlein has signed for the Manor Racing team in Formula 1, Esteban Ocon has replaced the 2015 DTM Series champion in the Mercedes-Benz squad for 2016.
French teenager Ocon, the reigning GP3 Series champion and 2014 FIA European Formula 3 Champion joins the Mercedes DTM team in place of Wehrlein in an otherwise unchanged eight-car line-up.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” said Ocon, who will dovetail his season with reserve driver duties for the Renault Sport Formula 1 team.
“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity. Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history.
“You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.
“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”
Ocon will join Paul di Resta, Gary Paffett, Robert Wickens, Christian Vietoris, Daniel Juncadella, Maximilian Gotz and Lucas Auer in the Ulrich Fritz-led squad.
“We’re aiming for stability in the team after a successful 2015,” said Fritz. “Esteban Ocon has learned a lot as our test and reserve driver and is ready for his rookie season in the DTM.
“Esteban proved his talent last year by winning the GP3 Series title. Of course, he still has much to learn, but with his seven team-mates, he can draw on the combined experience of 31 DTM seasons.
“When you start the season as defending champions, it’s hard to have any other goal than winning the championship. But everyone knows just how competitive the DTM is and it won’t be an easy task.”
Fritz paid tribute to the work of the team’s outgoing champion Wehrlein after his move into Formula 1, and offered his best wishes for his new career move.
“I would like to especially thank our reigning DTM champion, Pascal Wehrlein, who has taken the next step in his career for 2016, as he will be tackling a fresh challenge in Formula One,” said Fritz.
“Pascal remains part of the Mercedes-Benz family, and we wish him all the best in what we hope will be a successful F1 career.”