Mercedes junior driver Pascal Wehrlein has joined the Sauber F1 Team for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
The 2015 DTM champion will partner Marcus Ericsson at the Swiss side, who has been retained. Wehrlein replaces the outgoing Felipe Nasr, who is expected to join the German's former employers Manor, if they survive the winter.
Due to his Mercedes connection, Wehrlein was one of the candidates to replace the retiring World Champion Nico Rosberg at the all-conquering Stuttgart marque, but it came as no surprise to see the berth handed to Williams' Valtteri Bottas.
Despite not securing his desired seat, the 22-year-old has remained upbeat about his near future. "It is a challenge in a new team," Wehrlein told journalists. "I am really excited and looking forward to this adventure".
Wehrlein looked to have secured Manor's future with a wonderful performance at the Austrian Grand Prix, where he finished just inside the points, in 10th. However, Nasr's ninth place for Sauber at his bizarre home race in Brazil, relegated the Banbury team to last in the Constructors' Championship for the second successive year.
Wehrlein hoping Sauber can "establish" themselves in F1's midfield
Despite their recent woes, Wehrlein is confident of an upturn in performance. "Our objective is to establish ourselves in the midfield," Wehrlein stated. "I will do my best to support Sauber".
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn waxed lyrically about her new signing. "Pascal has shown talent throughout his career," the law graduate told Autosport. "There is more to come, and we want to give him the chance to further grow in motorsport".
A tumultuous few years has seen Sauber fall from championship contenders with BMW to barrel scraping, just to stay in the sport. In 2015, the team arrived at the season opener in Melbourne with three drivers claiming that they'd been promised a drive for the season, with Giedo van der Garde taking legal action after the team sided with Nasr and Ericsson.
Talks between Wehrlein and Sauber had been long standing, with Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff negotiating with Kaltenborn at the Brazilian Grand Prix, in November. It was reported that Mercedes felt that Sauber was the more stable option for their young driver; who also missed out on a potential move to Force India, with former Manor teammate Esteban Ocon replacing Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg.