Ralf Schumacher's decision to call time on his racing career [see separate story] has handed the opportunity of a lifetime to F3 hotshot Pascal Wehrlein to step up and make his tin-top debut in 2013.

"It's like a dream come true, my promotion to the DTM," said Wehrlein, who will be youngest DTM driver ever - 18 years and 188 days - on his Hockenheim debut, making him the youngest driver ever to compete in the series.

"What's especially nice is that I will be making my DTM debut with RSC M?cke Motorsport," Wehrlein continued. "I know Peter M?cke's and Ralf Schumacher's team already from previous years when I first competed for the outfit in the Formula ADAC and then later in the Formula 3 Euro Series.

"Working together always went well and I can't wait to get down to the business of setting up my new DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coup? for the season opener at Hockenheim with the guys from M?cke," added the youngster.

The German was runner-up to fellow DTM graduate Daniel Juncadella as a rookie in last season's F3 Euro Series and will now join the Spaniard as part of Mercedes' reduced six-car line-up in this year's DTM, which kicks off in early May. Wehrlein had originally been due to contest the rebranded FIA European F3 Championship with Mucke this season and was already busy working on his fitness with Schumacher's former trainer Daniel Dobringer.

"We are consciously taking a different track with signing Pascal," said Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. "He is one of five drivers who are all still very young, but we are confident that this new approach will benefit our brand.

"With an average age of 23 years, we may have the youngest team of drivers in the DTM, but so far, every one of them has proven skill in the world's leading junior series," he continued. "In 2012, Daniel Juncadella won the Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship; Roberto Merhi accomplished the same feat a year ago.

"In 2009, Christian Vietoris was second in the Formula 3 Euro Series; in 2011, Robert Wickens took the Formula Renault 3.5 championship title," he said. "And at the first attempt whilst still in his rookie year, Pascal Wehrlein was runner-up in the Formula 3 Euro Series.

"Bringing on young motor racing drivers has a long history at Mercedes-Benz and we are set to continue that tradition with this year's young team of drivers."

Ralf Schumacher will move to a management role within RSC M?cke Motorsport, primarily tasked with supporting and bringing on young DTM drivers such as Wehrlein and Juncadella.

"We have plenty of young, up-and-coming talent in our squad of drivers and I am happy to make way for them so that I can concentrate fully on my new responsibilities in the management team at RSC M?cke Motorsport," said Schumacher.