Little more than a year ago, Pascal Wehrlein’s Formula 1 career was looking in pretty good shape. He’d just had an impressive points-scoring season with Manor and, when Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement, as a Mercedes junior driver Pascal looked to be in prime position to be promoted to F1’s top team.
However Mercedes decided to go with Valtteri Bottas and Wehrlein was left with Sauber which, following the collapse of Manor, meant he would once again spend a year in the slowest car on the grid. To make matters worse, he then had to miss the opening two races because of an injury he sustained in the Race of Champions. Esteban Ocon overtook him as Mercedes’ preferred young driver and Wehrlein didn’t best Marcus Ericsson enough to outweigh the Swede’s backing. So when Charles Leclerc joined the team, poor Pascal was left with only a long shot at Williams, which obviously didn’t materialise.
From the brink of F1 success to being cast out of the sport in just over a year. Ouch. With F1 opportunities gone, Pascal is heading back to drive for Mercedes in the DTM, the series in which he won the title in 2015 and set him up for his F1 career. He said:
“I have fantastic memories with DTM, not least because of my title win in 2015, but also because of the strong team spirit and the many nice experiences with the guys. I have followed DTM closely during my time in Formula 1 and have been to some races to visit and support the team.
“Things have changed a lot in DTM since my last race at the season finale at Hockenheim 2015. But I like challenges and I cannot wait to get on track for the first time with our new car. The first tests cannot be here soon enough.”
2018 will be Mercedes’ final season in the DTM as last year it announced it would be ending its programme to focus on Formula E, which it’ll be joining in 2019. If Pascal plays his cards right he’ll surely be a strong contender to go to Formula E too. Although judging by the way the rest of his career has gone he’ll probably end up going back to Formula 3 or something.