The arrival of Mercedes protege Pascal Wehrlein on the F1 grid was no big surprise to those in the know. The German youngster has come via the unusual route of single-seaters and then touring cars, but since making his car racing debut six years ago - aged 16 - he has been a race winner every season.
Born in Sigmaringen to a German father and Mauritian mother, Wehrlein began karting in 2003 and worked his way up through the junior ranks to reach the KF2 category by 2009, when he finished fifth in the ADAC Kart Masters.
He progressed to single-seaters and the ADAC Formula Masters series for 2010, finishing sixth in the championship for after a maiden win at the Sachsenring and a further three podiums. The following year brought another seven victories - and the title.
Remaining with Mucke Motorsport, Wehrlein graduated to European Formula Three in 2012, winning once and claiming six podiums against a talented field that included Toro Rosso hotshot Carlos Sainz.
His 2013 season started with a further win at Monza, before a switch to the series that would make his name - Germany’s prestigious DTM touring car championship. His maiden victory in 2014 made him the youngest winner in the competition’s history and a day later he was named as Mercedes’ F1 reserve, following a successful test with the team.
Wehrlein’s rise continued unabated in 2015 as he combined his Formula One duties with a title-winning DTM campaign, this time becoming the series’ youngest-ever champion. His F1 test outings included run-outs with Mercedes and Force India, but it was ultimately Manor - powered by Mercedes for 2016 - who gave him his Formula One race debut.
He scored their only point of the 2016 season in Austria, but with financial uncertainty hanging over their future - and with no drives open at other Mercedes-powered teams - Wehrlein moved on to Sauber for 2017.