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DTM returnee Wehrlein eyeing Super Formula

DTM returnee Wehrlein eyeing Super Formula
By AutoSport

07/02/2018 at 17:55Updated 07/02/2018 at 17:59

Mercedes DTM returnee Pascal Wehrlein has explored the possibility of a Super Formula drive as he bids to earn a Formula 1 reprieve for 2019.

Wehrlein was left without a place on the 2018 F1 grid after losing his Sauber drive to Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc and failing to find a seat elsewhere.

The German was announced as a Mercedes DTM driver on Wednesday morning, and will return to the series he won in 2015.

Wehrlein said he had "not yet" given up on an F1 return and revealed that, in addition to trying to impress suitors in the DTM, "one or two" other programmes could be on the cards

Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal WehrleinReuters

"Yes, that opportunity still exists," said Wehrlein, when asked if a Super Formula programme had been an option for 2018. "I could do an additional programme [besides DTM]."

Wehrlein became the DTM's youngest ever champion when he won the series in 2015, which led to his promotion to F1 with Manor.

Asked if a year in the DTM could boost his chances of an F1 return, Wehrlein replied: "I think so.

"If I can be strong from the beginning, it could put me in a better position. But I haven't thought much about that. I just want to give my best this year.

"Then hopefully I will be in a good position next year."

Wehrlein said it "has always been an option" to return to the DTM, and finally agreed the deal late last month.

He admitted the possibility of a sabbatical played on his mind.

"I never lost contact with the team and I went to some races," he explained.

"I was in touch especially with my team, the mechanics and engineers, with whom I won the championship in 2015 - and also with [Mercedes DTM boss] Ulrich Fritz.

"So, it was always an option for me to come back. And then [I also thought] that I would have a year in which I would not race - and at the age of 23, I could not imagine that.

"It took some time until I knew what I wanted to do."