Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein will make his Formula One race debut in 2016 after signing a deal with Marussia, that is set to compete as Manor Racing this season.
The highly regarded German, 21, graduates to F1 as the reigning DTM champion, and will drive the Banbury-based team’s Mercedes-powered MRT05 challenger.
“Manor Racing is a great place for me to start my Formula One racing career – I’m very pleased to be here,” said Wehrlein, who has taken part in eight official F1 tests since 2014. “It’s a small and totally focused team and I soon hope to know everyone. Though it’s my first F1 season my aim is to help Stephen [Fitzpatrick, Manor Racing’s owner] and the guys achieve their goals. It will be a tough challenge but I think we should be able to challenge for points along the way. It’s going to be good fun.”
“A word for my racing family at Mercedes-Benz, and particularly for Toto [Wolff], who have guided my career this far and made this opportunity possible. Thanks for the incredible support to help me achieve my dream; now it’s down to me to grab the moment and perform on track,” Wehrlein added.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Manor Racing owner, added: “Pascal is a sharp driver with a very promising future. Manor Racing is excited to have him aboard. We’re a small team up for a big challenge this season, so we’ve chosen a driver with the talent and hunger to match our own on-track ambitions.”
“Pascal has impressed in testing for Mercedes and Force India, together with commanding performances in DTM, culminating in the championship win last year. Manor Racing is perfectly placed to help Pascal make a big impact in his first season. We’re looking forward to it!,” he added.
Wehrlein will be behind the wheel for both of this year’s pre-season tests, starting in Barcelona on February 23.
The identity of his 2016 team mate is currently unconfirmed, though Alexander Rossi – who competed in five Grands Prix for Marussia last year – has said that his chances of returning to the grid for the forthcoming season are “looking positive.”