Lucas Auer says he is looking forward to the prospect of battling new Mercedes teammate Pascal Wehrlein throughout the 2018 DTM season. 

Having lost his Sauber Formula 1 seat in the off-season, Wehrlein, who became the youngest-ever DTM champion in 2015, will partner Auer as part of Mercedes’ six car driver line-up for its swanswang campaign in the category.

Auer contested his rookie DTM season with ART Grand Prix in the same year Wehrlein won the championship with Mercedes but was never in a position to fight on-track with the German, whose title triumph paved the way for a two-year spell in F1. 

The Austrian joked an intra-team rivalry between himself and Wehrlein could prove “dangerous”, adding he is relishing going head-to-head with the former Manor and Sauber F1 driver. 

“When I first arrived in the DTM, I was not a serious competitor to Pascal. As a rookie, I still had a lot to learn, and he was entering his third year in the DTM,” Auer said.

“So it's going to be an interesting contest between us this season. But first we have to see who are the biggest threats to us in the other teams. 

“However, if it develops into a pitched battle between the two of us, that will definitely be exciting and really cool. With his return, the DTM is gaining another great personality.”

The upcoming season will be Mercedes’ last in the DTM, before it switches focus to Formula E. The German marque has not managed a sustained DTM title challenge since Wehrlein’s initial departure at the end of 2015. 

Auer and Wehrlein will be joined at Mercedes by past champions Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta, as well as Edoardo Mortara and Dani Juncadella.