Austrian racer Lucas Auer became the most recent driver to graduate from European F3 to DTM, joining the ranks of Mercedes-Benz for 2015.
The 20-year-old from Tyrol looked set to progress to Formula Renault 3.5 with Arden, but appears to have been outbid for the seat.
He now becomes Mercedes’ third confirmed DTM driver, joining veteran Gary Paffett and GT star Maximilian Gotz.
“Joining the DTM is an important step in my career,” said Auer. “I?m very proud to be part of the Mercedes family. Testing towards the end of last year in Jerez de la Frontera was a fantastic experience. I can?t wait to get back in the car and continue preparations for my DTM debut.”
“I realise that it won?t be an easy task as the DTM is a top-class racing series with formidable opponents, but I?m willing to learn and ready to embark on this adventure. I intend to grab this chance at Mercedes Benz with both hands.”
Auer, who is the nephew of former F1 driver Gerhard Berger, won the JK Racing Asia Series title in his debut year in cars in 2011. He was runner-up in German F3 the next year, before finishing fourth in FIA F3 with Prema.
He switched to Mucke for 2014 and would be fourth again, adding three wins to his sole victory from 2013 and finishing as the German team’s leader.
“Lucas Auer has earned this opportunity with his performance in recent years,” said Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Toto Wolff. “Our involvement in Formula 3 has enabled many drivers in the past to show that they are ready for the DTM, including Christian Vietoris and Pascal Wehrlein.”
“We are continuing with our philosophy of giving young racing talent a chance to move up to the DTM and it is now apparent that both the Customer Sports Programme and Formula 3 can lead to that objective, as evidenced by Maximilian Gotz and Lucas Auer. It?s all down in the end to the driver?s strength of purpose, his level of commitment and performance.”
Auer is unlikely to be the only 2014 FIA F3 graduate in the DTM series, with champion Esteban Ocon and runner-up Tom Blomqvist rumored to be seeking seats in the category.