The 2016 Formula One grid is nearly complete. Manor Racing has confirmed that Pascal Wehrlein will make his debut this season, leaving just one seat available.
Wehrlein is the reigning DTM champion and has tested for the Mercedes F1 Team. With Mercedes providing the newly named Manor Racing with engines for the 2016 season the signing of one of their junior drivers comes as no surprise.
“Manor Racing is a great place for me to start my Formula One career – I’m very pleased to be here,” Wehrlein said of the news. “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, team owner] and the guys achieve their goals.”
The German driver also explained he had high hopes for the season ahead. “It will be a tough challenge but I think we should be able to challenge for points along the way,” he revealed. “It’s going to be good fun. A word for my racing family at Mercedes-Benz, and particularly for Toto, 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”.
Team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick revealed the reasons for Wehrlein’s signing. “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!”
In the past Wehrlein has raced in the ADAC Formel Masters, Formula 3, and DTM championships – winning the latter in 2015. He has also tested for Force India as well as Mercedes.
His signing means there is just one seat left on the grid as his team-mate. Names linked to it include 2015 race drivers Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi, and Alexander Rossi along with GP2 racer Rio Haryanto.