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Mercedes delighted with F1 roles for proteges

NEWS STORY
12/02/2016

Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes is delighted to see Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon in F1 this year.

With a full-time race seat at Manor Racing for Wehrlein and the role of third driver at Renault for Ocon, both Mercedes Juniors will continue learning during 2016 with the continued long-term backing of Mercedes.

"We're delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016," said Wolff. "Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula One programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

"It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula One on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system," he added. "Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there - and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series. But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground.

"This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior programme. Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future."

Having established his reputation within the German motorsport community by taking the 2011 ADAC Formel Masters Series title, Wehrlein saw his stock rise further after finishing runner up in his debut season in the Formula 3 Euro Series. He then made the leap into DTM with Mercedes - becoming the youngest debutant in the history of the series in 2013, the youngest race winner in 2014 and the youngest Champion in 2015.

From September 2014, he combined his DTM campaign with an official role as Mercedes reserve F1 driver - performing test duties for the Silver Arrows in Barcelona, Spielberg and Abu Dhabi the following year.

Following an impressive karting career, Ocon quickly established himself as one to watch in single-seater racing - finishing third in the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup before clinching the FIA Formula 3 European Championship (2014) and GP3 Series (2015) titles in consecutive seasons.

With his career backed by Mercedes since the beginning of the 2015 season, Ocon was confirmed as a fully-fledged Mercedes Junior at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that year - sealing the 2015 GP3 Series title just 24 hours later. During 2016, he will combine his role as third driver for Renault with a race seat in the Mercedes AMG DTM Team.

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1. Posted by LifelessDead, 12/02/2016 11:15

"note: "Usually that" refers to going to DTM.
Hell, those cars are slower than an F3 car, can't follow other cars through corners, have an extremely poor DRS system. And lets not start about manufacturer involvement over there! :-)"

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2. Posted by LifelessDead, 12/02/2016 11:14

"Too bad about Ocon going to DTM. Was really looking forward to having him do GP2!
Usually that turns out to be a bit of a dead end for a career, I'm hoping Renault can get him out of there.

On the other hand, the risk of doing GP2 is just too big. Matches the recent trend were nobody wants to run the risk of having a talent lose a junior championship. Ocon's follow up championship wins in F3 and GP3 were already exceptional, but that's not even a ticket to F1.

Verstappen's management was really smart (and open!) in demanding an F1 seat instead of running the risk of losing in the next junior catagory. Just look at what happened to Marciello.

It's actually a big shame... "

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