Andrew Lewin 11/10/2018 at 15:0111/10/2018 at 14:20
Pascal Wehrlein has turned down a chance of racing full-time in Formula E in order to focus on achieving a return to the Grand Prix grid.
That's according to Ulrich Fritz, boss of the new Mercedes-affiliated HWA team that will join the all-electric championship for season 5 that gets underway in December.
Wehrlein tested the new Gen2 car with the team earlier this year but ultimately decided it wasn't the way he wanted to go.
"Pascal did well in his test but at the time we wanted to make the decision," Fritz was quoted by Brazil's Globo. "Pascal's focus was very clearly on returning to F1."
Wehrlein previously won the 2015 DTM championship before joining Manor in 2016. The 23-year-old moved to Sauber the following season, but this year found himself without a seat in F1 and back in DTM with the Mercedes works team.
Last month, Wehrlein decided to severed his long standing ties with Mercedes in order to remove one barrier to getting a seat at the Red Bull-backed Toro Rosso squad.
The only other viable spot for him on the grid would be at Williams, which has a long waiting list of hopeful drivers queuing up for a chance.
Fritz said that knowing Wehrlein's focus on F1 meant he didn't want to take him on at HWA for what could be a limited run.
"I can understand that," he said. "But I do not want to set up a team where a driver says after two races that he is leaving to enter F1.
"Our expectation was that Pascal would decide in favour of Formula E for the long term," he added.
"He couldn't and didn't want to do that at that moment," Fritz told Motorsport.com. "[We] understood, respected and accepted [his decision].
"Accordingly, this project did not come about in its present form," he added. "We never really got into any further talks, because it just didn't fit together."
HWA has already announced that Wehrlein's current DTM team mate Gary Paffett will be driving for them in Formula E next season. The team's second driver is still to be decided.
HWA's participation in the series is in preparation for Mercedes' arrival as a manufacturer at the end of 2019, after it bows out of DTM following this weekend's season finale at Hockenheim.
"It's a bit strange," said Paffett of the forthcoming event. "It is the last race for Mercedes in the DTM, the last race for me with Mercedes, and the last race for me in the DTM for the foreseeable future as well.
"I'll be switching to Formula E after the end of the season [but] it's a massive occasion. Honestly, I don't think we are going to feel it. It is going to take a while for it to sink in."
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