Having raced in the DTM Series since 2012, Robert Wickens will move to the IndyCar Series with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
The Canadian was given his opportunity to join the DTM when Mercedes announced the revival of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team which guided the careers of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Karl Wendlinger and Michael Schumacher.
Sunday’s season finale at the Hockenheimring was Wickens’ last race in the series, finishing ninth in the championship, claiming one victory and three further podiums in the season.
“It’s been the most amazing six years,” said Robert. “Until this season, I’d never really considered leaving Mercedes or the DTM.”
With Mercedes having made the decision to leave the DTM following the end of the 2018 season, the opportunity to move came at just the right time for the Canadian.
Prior to the start of the 2017 DTM Series, Wickens was given his first opportunity to test IndyCar machinery when fellow Canadian, and friend, James Hinchcliffe allowed Wickens the opportunity to run in his car. Wickens returned the favour by allowing Hinchcliffe to taste DTM machinery.
In June 2017, Wickens actually joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsport for the IndyCar Series’ Kohler Grand Prix and Road America taking part in practice after Mikhail Aleshin had visa issues but managed to resolve his problems.
“It’s going to be a very steep learning curve,” he said. “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.”
Wickens last raced in single-seaters back in 2011 when he won the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship.
Head of Mercedes DTM, Ulrich Fritz, said: “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.”
In his 84 DTM races, Wickens secured: five pole positions, five fastest laps, six wins, 15 podiums, and 429 points. The Canadian’s most successful season was 2016, in which he was a title contender until the penultimate round at the Hungaroring, finishing the season in fourth overall.
“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,” said Wickens.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs on the way but have never had so much support from a team before. It’s been an honour to represent the brand and maybe it’s not the last time.”