Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein says he is missing the close racing of the DTM in his rookie season in Formula 1.
Wehrlein spent three seasons in the touring series with Mercedes, winning the title last year alongside his F1 reserve duties. Switching to grand prix racing with Manor this year, Wehrlein has been one of the big early movers in each race, but says he misses fighting other drivers in the DTM.
“The fights in the DTM are really cool, proper wheel-to-wheel action with contact,” he said after visiting the Hockenheim season opener. “You can’t do that in F1. The scraps were lots of good fun, really great.
“This was the first time this weekend that I’ve seen the cars race without taking part. It felt weird. It obviously got the adrenaline going. I would have liked to have jumped in a car and taken part.”
Wehrlein has been replaced in Mercedes’ DTM line-up by Esteban Ocon, who is both a Mercedes development driver and Renault’s F1 reserve. Ocon will take part in FP1 for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, then take part in next week’s post-race test with both Renault and Mercedes.
The German said GP3 champion Ocon will find a level of drivers “in no way inferior to Formula 1” in the series this year.
“This year, he’s in a similar situation to the one I found myself in when I joined the DTM,” Wehrlein said. “You first have to get used to the racing series and to the car, but there are no major problems in making the switch.
“We can all drive a racing car quickly. What makes the difference in the DTM is finding the last tenth of a second, that’s tricky. You also need experience with setup.
“As regards to drivers, the DTM is in no way inferior to Formula 1. The top drivers in both series are extremely fast and very hard to beat. Every one of them is a specialist in his field.”