Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has expressed his pride in the German manufacturer's junior drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon stepping up their involvement in F1 which he says has been achieved 'on talent and merit.'
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport has engineered moves for both 2015 DTM champion Wehrlein who has secured an F1 race seat with Manor and 2015 GP3 Series winner Ocon who takes up the third and reserve driver role at the newly-formed Renault Sport F1 squad.
Wolff sees the moves as a credit to the success of the team's junior programme and says it is another key step for both their burgeoning careers.
“We're delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula One programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.”
Ocon will combine his new Renault role by taking up Wehrlein's place in the Mercedes DTM driver line-up, with the German graduating into F1 as the youngest-ever champion. After both drivers excelled in their respective fields, Wolff feels it is only fair they are selected for roles in F1 after providing their capabilities last season.
“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula One on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system,” he said. “Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there - and both come into 2016 as Champions of their respective series.”
Wolff is keen for Ocon and Wehrlein to continue their impressive rate of development and meet their respective targets in 2016, while Mercedes will continue to keep an eye out for new and emerging talent in junior series.
“They still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground,” he explained. “This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior programme. Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”