Pascal Wehrlein joins Sauber for 2017 Formula 1 season
German moves from Manor to replace Felipe Nasr in Sauber's 2017 line-up; Valtteri Bottas lands Mercedes drive
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 16/01/17 4:01pm
Pascal Wehrlein has joined Sauber for the 2017 season after missing out on a seat at world champions Mercedes.
The German's move to the Hinwil team was announced as Mercedes successfully secured the services of Valtteri Bottas from Williams, with Felipe Massa returning to Grove.
Wehrlein replaces Felipe Nasr as Marcus Ericsson's team-mate in the Swiss team's line-up.
“I am very delighted at being a part of the Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming Formula 1 season," said Wehrlein.
"It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure. Our objective is to establish ourselves in the midfield and to score points on a regular basis.
"That being said, I will do my best to support Sauber. Now I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the team and to tackling the preparations for the 2017 season. I want to say a big thank you to Sauber for trusting in me and giving me this great chance. And surely, a huge thanks also goes to Mercedes for the support.”
The 22-year-old German is part of Mercedes' young driver programme and had been in contention to replace Nico Rosberg before the team moved for Bottas. Wehrlein was already expected to move to Sauber before the world champion retired in December.
The youngster drove for Mercedes-engined Manor during his 2016 debut season and claimed the team's only point with 10th place at the Austrian GP.
Sauber use engines supplied by Ferrari, one of Mercedes' chief rivals.
Wehrlein was also overlooked by Force India, another engine customer of Mercedes, when the team decided to sign Esteban Ocon, a fellow Mercedes graduate, as Nico Hulkenberg's replacement for 2017.
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"I am pleased to know that Pascal will be racing at Sauber to continue his development in F1," said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.
"He had a good first season with Manor and we feel this is the right path for him in the sport. It's satisfying to have both of our young drivers taking on new challenges in F1 this year, with Esteban also racing at Force India. We'll be following their progress closely; I'm sure we've got an exciting season ahead of us."
Ericsson, whose Swedish backers are thought to be linked to Sauber's owners, was confirmed for a third season at the team in November.
“Pascal has shown his talent throughout his career – in single seater racing as well as in the DTM," said Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn.
"Last year in his rookie Formula 1 season, he proved his potential by scoring one point in the Austrian GP in Spielberg. There is surely more to come from Pascal, and we want to give him the chance to further grow and learn at the pinnacle of motorsport. I am confident Marcus and Pascal will form a solid combination for 2017.”
Wehrlein's stay on the grid for a second season means Germany will again field the most drivers of any nation in 2017, three, despite the country's grand prix once more falling off the calendar.