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Wickens joins Mercedes in DTM

Sometime Marussia test driver Robert Wickens has swapped single-seaters for tin-tops after joining Mercedes' new 'Junior Team'.
Robert Wickens has taken a route increasingly well-travelled as he attempts to keep himself in the frame for an F1 drive, opting to join the Mercedes line-up in the DTM.

The Three-Pointed Star has taken the decision to relaunch the successful Junior Team initiative made famous by the triumvirate of Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the early 1990s, and includes Wickens in its 2012 line-up, alongside reigning F3 Euroseries champion Roberto Mehri and GP2 convert Christian Vietoris.

While the German has the advantage of having already spent a year in the 'tin-top' series, Wickens is hoping to get up to speed quickly and, if all goes well, propel himself back into the F1 'green room', having been overlooked for even a testing role in 2012, The Canadian, a Red Bull protégé on his way up through the junior ranks, won last year's World Series by Renault and tested positively for the Marussia Virgin team, leading to hopes that he may be included in the Russian-financed team's plans for the coming year. Instead, with Charles Pic taking the second race seat alongside Timo Glock and no-one yet confirmed for the third driver role, Wickens has taken matters into his own hands in order to remain 'on track'.

"The DTM is a fantastic series - you're competing against top-notch drivers," the 22-year old commented, "I'm proud that Mercedes-Benz are giving me the chance to show what I am capable of in this environment in the Junior Team. My main aim will be to finish every race and to deliver decent performances."

Mercedes' youth development programme has proved a useful stepping stone to F1, with no fewer than eight of this year's 24 F1 drivers having previously been powered by the Three-Pointed Star in F3. Having raced in the F3 Euroseries, Wickens finished second in the F2 standings in 2009, repeated that result in GP3 in 2010, before winning last year's WSbR crown, which earned him an F1 test outing with Lotus Renault GP to add to his Marussia Virgin experience.

"Here at Mercedes-Benz, we have a tradition of nurturing promising young drivers and talent-spotting the stars of tomorrow that goes back almost as far as the earliest Mercedes-built racing cars," vice-president of motorsport Norbert Haug emphasised, "The youth factor is entirely consistent with the DTM, even more so now that the series has been broadened out to include the three most successful premium marques in the world.

"Roberto, Christian and Robert have a lot to learn, but that will not be a problem, as they are all three avid learners, and have excellent role models in Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger, the successful trio who made up the Mercedes Junior Team in the late eighties and early nineties, and who have still not finished making motor racing history."

Mehri and Vietoris both still harbour F1 ambitions, and will join Wickens in viewing the success currently being enjoyed by Paul di Resta, who spent four years in the DTM before being promoted by Mercedes to a race seat with F1 customer team Force India.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Roberto Mehri, Christian Vietoris and Robert Wickens recreate the famous `young guns` photograph initially featuring Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Karl Wendlinger and Michael Schumacher
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Buck - Unregistered

April 02, 2012 1:46 PM

This guy is really good, has excelled at every level and is reconized as an excellent young driver. Charles PIC got the ride??? Another under acheiver pay driver, kind of sad really. Guess you need family MONEY or connections to get a F1 drive these days. Talent is not that important it seems. :( Oh well... GO GET 'EM ROBERT................ .

JJJ - Unregistered

April 02, 2012 3:50 PM

This guy should have done GP2. He probably didn't cause of lack of money, but still. Second in F2, second in GP3 and winning WSBR are good results without question, but not enough to prove beyond doubt that he's F1 material. It was the first year of F2 and GP3 and as far as WSBR goes, some other winners include Alx Danielson, Alvaro Parente, Giedo van der Garde, Bertrand Baguette and Mikhail Aleshin. All drivers who have since failed to make it to a raceseat in F1. vd Garde and Parente did at least win some races in GP2, but failed to make a real impact on the championship. WSBR has some good years and bad years and only Kubica really made an impression on F1 after winning it. This is a good move for Wickens and if he really has what it takes Mercedes will give him a few years to prove it to them.

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