Mercedes test driver tipped for Force India seat in Barcelona

Ex-DTM racer Pascal Wehrlein set to test 2014-spec car as rumours continue to swirl around cash flow problems.

Mercedes Formula One reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein appears set to drive for all four days of testing at Barcelona this week with Force India, in place of the team's regulars, according to reports.

After skipping the opening Formula One test of the year at Jerez, amid stories of unpaid bills and supplier trouble delaying assembly of its new chassis, Force India will use its 2014 car in the second test which starts on Thursday.

Last December, Toto Wolff – the team boss at Force India's engine supplier, Mercedes – said he was seeking a "reserve or test role or any Friday (practice) role with a smaller team" this year for 20-year-old German Wehrlein, who raced in the German-based DTM touring car series last year.

Financial issues spark move

The move to run Wehrlein in Barcelona, which has yet to be officially confirmed, has been viewed as payment in lieu of engine bills. Force India has admitted to cash flow issues, and repeatedly blamed the rising costs of competing in F1.

Force India's 2015 car, the as-yet-unseen VJM08, is still not ready, although it is believed the monocoque has now been delivered to the team's factory. "The plan is to introduce it (the 2015 car) at the final test," a spokesman confirmed.

Wehrlein has sampled Formula One machinery before, driving Merc's 2014 car at Abu Dhabi for 96 laps in the post-season test. He set the fastest time of that test, despite many regular F1 drivers taking part.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Barcelona February testing
Track Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Drivers Toto Wolff , Pascal Wehrlein
Article type Breaking news
Tags f1 cash crisis, force india, mercedes