Mercedes keen to retain DTM drivers after quitting series
Mercedes DTM boss Ulrich Fritz has indicated that the German marque will try to keep its line-up of drivers within its stable after it quits the tin-top series.
Last month's news that Mercedes will leave DTM after the 2018 season in favour of an entry into Formula E has left its six current drivers facing uncertain futures beyond next season.
Along with rival marques Audi and BMW, Mercedes slimmed down to six cars for 2017, recruiting Edoardo Mortara from Audi to join Gary Paffett, Paul di Resta, Robert Wickens, Lucas Auer and returnee Maro Engel, who also races for the Venturi Formula E team.
Speaking at Zandvoort last weekend, Fritz said Mercedes would be keen to keep its drivers within its orbit even after it leaves DTM, but also made it clear they would be free to pursue other avenues.
"Mercedes has always been known for being really close with the drivers, having long-term relationships with drivers," said Fritz.
"If you look at the two guys who left the DTM programme last year, Maxi [Gotz] and Dani [Juncadella], they are still part of the whole party, and this is something we will try to achieve for them as well.
"On the other hand, if they want to do something else, I will definitely not stand in their way."
Asked by Motorsport.com whether the Mercedes Formula E team will therefore run current Mercedes-contracted drivers, Fritz replied: "It’s too early to say, still two years to go.
"But in DTM we have the strongest line-up worldwide, I would say, driver quality-wise. So you would be maybe taking those guys, because for sure they would be competitive.
"Of course Maro has an advantage because he has experience in this field, but even [also] Edo [Mortara] because he did a lot of testing with Abt years ago. We will see."
Asked about the potential of racing in Formula E with Mercedes, Mortara told Motorsport.com: "Formula E is growing, seems to be growing really fast. It’s the championship to be in. Why not?
"I like challenges, this new technology. I think it’s still possible for me to do well in that championship, coming from DTM where the level is very high."
Robert Wickens likewise expressed an interest in a potential Formula E move, and told Motorsport.com that Mercedes quitting DTM gives him the possibility of making a "fresh start".
"You never know," said the Canadian, who has also expressed an interest in IndyCar. "I feel like HWA is happy with me and my results so far with them, so there are definitely a lot of opportunities.
"Sometimes a fresh start can change a person. I went through the same thing when I was released from Red Bull – it was one or two days of grief, and then you realise the other possibilities.
"It frees you do to a lot, I just need to figure out what’s best for the rest of my career."
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