Pascal Wehrlein will continue to stay with the Mercedes junior program despite the German not getting an F1 race seat for 2018 says team boss Toto Wolff.
Wehrlein lost his Sauber seat to Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc as a part of a deal the outfit made with Alfa Romeo, and he is not in the picture to get the final seat at Williams.
Since his chances in F1 for 2018 are almost zero, the German is training his sights on returning to DTM where he won the title in 2015.
Mercedes team principal Wolff said that he believes in the German driver’s skills and ability and affirmed that Wehrlein will stay with the Mercedes family.
Wolff said: “Pascal definitely deserves a place in Formula 1 and is certainly one of the fastest drivers,”
“At the moment it looks a little bit bitter as far as the available [race] driver seats are concerned.
“But he’s definitely going to be on our team. [It is unclear] whether or not he actively participates in a racing series other than Formula 1. He will definitely remain part of our squad.”
Sauber owes all its 2017 points in the constructor’s standings to Wehrlein’s eighth place in the Spanish Grand Prix and 10th in Azerbaijan.
But due to its partner commitment to Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, they choose to go with the younger drivers from the Ferrari programme.
Wehrlein believes his performance improvement was not noticed in 2017 as Sauber was so far behind everyone else that it did not make any change in their position.
“I’m quite happy in the end with five points,” he said. “Not all of the races have been good as I wished but I think in general we did what we could do.”
The German driver is positive about his return to Formula 1 in 2019 when the driver market will have a significant shake-up.