Photo: Mucke Motorsport
German youngster and F3 Euro Series vice-champion Pascal Wehrlein will make his debut in the DTM series in 2013, after ex-Formula 1 man Ralf Schumacher retired from racing.
Wehrlein already had a contracted seat with Mercedes-powered Mucke in European F3, yet, with Schumacher unexpectedly freeing up a seat in spite of having agreed terms with Mercedes for the upcoming year, the 18-year-old was the obvious candidate for promotion. He will remain with Peter Mucke’s outfit, where Schumacher will now hold a management position, and will be the youngest driver in DTM history.
The Mercedes DTM lineup will be host to multiple young talents apart from Wehrlein, with ex-GP2 man Christian Vietoris entering his third year in the series, WSR champion Robert Wickens and F3 Euro Series champ Roberto Merhi continuing with Mercedes after their respective rookie years and another F3 Euro Series winner, and Dani Juncadella making his debut in DTM alongside Wehrlein at Mucke. The series will also see the arrival of Marco Wittmann, who was vice-champion in the F3 Euro Series in 2010 and 2011.
Commenting on his graduation, Wehrlein said: “It?s like a dream come true, my promotion to the DTM. What?s especially nice is that I will be making my DTM debut with RSC Mucke Motorsport. I know Peter Mucke’s and Ralf Schumacher?s team already from previous years when I first competed for the outfit in the Formula ADAC and then later in the Formula 3 Euro Series. Working together always went well and I can?t wait to get down to the business of setting up my new DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coup? for the season opener at Hockenheim with the guys from Mucke.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Toto Wolff added: “Pascal Wehrlein is another promising young driver who perfectly fits our philosophy with regard to DTM drivers. We are consciously taking a different track with signing Pascal. He is one of five drivers who are all still very young, but we are confident that this new approach will benefit our brand. With an average age of 23 years, we may have the youngest team of drivers in the DTM, but so far, every one of them has proven skill in the world?s leading junior series. Bringing on young motor racing drivers has a long history at Mercedes-Benz and we are set to continue that tradition with this year?s young team of drivers”.
While not confirmed, Wehrlein is unlikely to be able to continue in European F3, which supports the DTM at seven rounds this year. His absence will surely come as a severe blow to the quality of the grid, with the German entering the season as one of the title favourites, after he won the ADAC Formel Masters title in 2011 and missed out on the F3 Euro Series title to Juncadella last year.
Wehrlein was one of four drivers Mucke had entered into the 2013 F3 season, along with Felix Rosenqvist, Mitchell Gilbert and Roy Nissany.