Pascal Wehrlein has identified Japanese single-seater series, Super Formula as a potential route back into Formula 1, after the Alfa-Romeo Sauber F1 Team dropped him in favour of Charles Leclerc for the 2018 season.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport junior Wehrlein will return to the German Touring Car series, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) in the coming year, as he evaluates his options and a potential return to the F1 grid.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, twenty-three-year-old Wehrlein, who became the youngest ever DTM champion in 2015 said that he “could do an additional programme besides the DTM and Super Formula is an opportunity that exists.”
After winning the 2015 DTM championship, Wehrlein was promoted to F1 with the now defunct Manor Racing team, and scored what turned out to be Manor’s last point in the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix.
When Manor folded, and he missed out on a seat at Sahara Force India to Esteban Ocon, Mercedes’ motorsport boss, Toto Wolff, placed Wehrlein at Sauber alongside Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson for the 2017 season.
Despite scoring all five of Sauber’s points, including an eighth place finish in the Spanish Grand Prix, Wehrlein was forced to make way for Scuderia Ferrari protégé, Leclerc as Sauber embark on a new long-term technical partnership with the Italian team.
Wehrlein admits that it ‘took some time until I knew what I wanted to do’ – although he ruled out the possibility of a sabbatical.
“I never lost contact with the team (Mercedes in the DTM) and I went to some races, and was in touch especially with my team, the mechanics and engineers with whom I won the championship in 2015 – and also [Mercedes DTM boss] Ulrich Fritz,” said Wehrlein.
“So, it was always an option for me to come back. And then (I thought) that I would have to have a year in which I would not race – and at the age of 23, I could not imagine that.”
Looking ahead to the coming season, Wehrlein added that if he could “be strong from the beginning, it could put me in a better position. I just want to give my best this year, and then hopefully I will be in a good position next year.”