Wehrlein not yet exploring options outside F1 for 2018

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Pascal Wehrlein says he is not yet exploring options outside of Formula 1 for 2018, and that he hopes to make progress with his future plans in the near future.

Mercedes youngster Wehrlein moved into F1 with Manor in 2016 before switching to Sauber for the current season, scoring all five of its points through 2017.

The German driver looks set to leave the team at the end of the year, though, after it signed an enhanced technical partnership with Ferrari for 2018 that should see Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc take a seat.

The team’s second drive looks to be between Antonio Giovinazzi and the incumbent Marcus Ericsson, leaving Wehrlein looking elsewhere for a role.

Williams seems to be the only possible place Wehrlein could land in F1 next year, although the team is also considering Paul di Resta and Robert Kubica as potential replacements for Felipe Massa, and questions also remain over a requirement from sponsor Martini to field a driver over the age of 25 alongside 18-year-old Lance Stroll.

Asked about his future on Thursday ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Wehrlein said that while he was yet to get any firm decisions made, he hoped progress could be made soon.

“No news yet on this side, but I hope there are some discussions going on for next year, and I hope we can fix something soon,” Wehrlein said.

“I have no deadline, no. The last two years it was always quite late.

“I just hope we can find something and sign a contract for next year and I would be happy.”

When asked if he was considering seats outside F1, Wehrlein said: “I’m not looking outside yet.”

Wehrlein has been linked with a possible return to DTM with Mercedes, with whom he won the title in 2015, after a seat was freed up by Robert Wickens following his switch to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Schimdt Peterson Motorsports for 2018.

While Mercedes will be leaving DTM at the end of next year, it could give Wehrlein an option to follow the German marque into Formula E from 2019 should he wish to keep an interest in single-seaters.