Wolff: Talent alone got young drivers F1 shot

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Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says the promotions of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon into F1 roles is proof talented drivers will get a chance.

With costs a consistent issue within F1, teams often have to balance talent with an overall package including funding when selecting their driver line-ups. Recent examples of champions not making the step up to F1 include Robin Frijns - who won the Formula BMW, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 3.5 titles in consecutive seasons - while the GP2 champion has not stepped straight in to a race seat since Romain Grosjean in 2012.

With 2015 DTM champion Wehrlein set to race for Manor this season and GP3 champion Ocon landing a reserve role at Renault, Wolff says both drivers earned their opportunities purely on talent.

"We're delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016," Wolff said. "Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula One programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

"It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula One on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there - and both come into 2016 as Champions of their respective series. But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground.

"This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior programme. Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future."

2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne today announced a switch to Super Formula for the coming season alongside his reserve duties at McLaren.

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