Sauber has confirmed Pascal Wehrlein will join its team for the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship season alongside Marcus Ericsson.
The Mercedes development driver made his F1 debut with Manor Racing in 2016 after winning the DTM title in 2015, scoring the minnow team's second-ever top ten finish with a famous run to tenth in the Austrian Grand Prix.
For 2017, however, Wehrlein switches to rivals Sauber with the German racer keen to put the lessons learned from his maiden season into good use as he looks to establish himself as a more regular point-scorer.
“I am very delighted at being a part of the Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming Formula One Season. 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 mid-field 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.”
Sauber's announcement will be seen as a clear sign that Mercedes is preparing to reveal Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg's replacement. Wehrlein was in contention for a promotion to the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, with his Sauber deal suggesting the team no longer needs the youngster on 'standby' if it couldn't reach terms with Bottas.
Despite Wehrlein's presence, Sauber is set to use year-old Ferrari power units for its 2017 specification machine. The team has been linked to a Honda or Mercedes engine deal for 2018.
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst