Phillip Horton  |    |   0  |  14 September 2018

Mercedes and Pascal Wehrlein to part company after 2018

Mercedes is to part company with reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein at the end of the season after it was unable to provide him with a competitive drive for 2019.

Wehrlein received Mercedes backing in 2013 and claimed the 2015 DTM title, during which spell he tested for its Formula 1 team, taking on a reserve driver position.

Wehrlein captured a Formula 1 seat with Manor in 2016 and remained on the grid with Sauber in 2017, taking a couple of points finish, including eighth at the Spanish Grand Prix.

But Mercedes was unable to keep Wehrlein on the 2018 grid and he instead returned to DTM, where he holds eighth place in the standings.

Team boss Toto Wolff hinted last month that Mercedes would have to evaluate the future of its young driver scheme if it was unable to find competitive drives for its members.

Mercedes, which will withdraw from DTM at the end of the campaign, has now announced that it will not continue with Wehrlein into 2019.

“Our junior programme has always been about supporting young talent and finding opportunities that are in the best interests of the drivers' careers,” said Wolff.

“It is not always a straight path to the top - and sometimes we have to recognise that it is the right time to end a relationship, too.

“Unfortunately, we couldn't offer Pascal a competitive drive for next year. In his best interests, we have therefore decided together with Pascal not to extend our agreement and to give him the best chance of securing an opportunity elsewhere that his talent merits.

“We want to thank him for his fantastic performances for Mercedes-Benz in recent years and wish him all the best for the future."

Wehrlein added: “My contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the 2018 season and we have jointly decided not to continue further together.

“I am looking for new challenges and opportunities, and am currently talking to other teams about a cockpit for next season.

"I am very grateful for all the support Mercedes has offered me - from my first meeting with Gerhard Ungar and Norbert Haug in 2012, to the decision with Toto to join DTM instead of F3 in 2013, through to my title in 2015; it was a dream come true for a kid who drew up an hour from Stuttgart.
"That opened the door to Formula 1, first with Manor and then Sauber; the points I scored with both teams were huge moments.

“Thank you to everybody in Stuttgart, Affalterbach and Brackley who has supported me along the way. And now it's time to take the next step."

Wehrlein's impending exit leaves current Force India racer Esteban Ocon and F2 title leader George Russell on Mercedes' books.

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