Mercedes let Wickens leave a year early to make IndyCar switch

Robert Wickens has revealed that Mercedes let him leave his contract a year early so he could make a switch to IndyCar from the DTM in 2018

Mercedes let Wickens leave a year early to make IndyCar switch

Wickens was announced as the second SPM driver earlier this month, bringing an end to his six-year spell with Mercedes.

He had been reluctant to make the move to IndyCar initially but following Mercedes' confirmation it would leave the DTM at the end of 2018, Wickens focused on securing his new seat.

Wickens admitted he did have the option to stay in the DTM, but that it was hard to commit without promises beyond next year.

"Mercedes were great," he said. "They know that they kind of gave all the DTM drivers a pretty unfortunate situation.

"They weren't, let's say, willing to help. But they definitely weren't interfering. And I think that's the most important thing.

"Your racing career only lasts for so long and without having, I guess 'promises of the future' after 2018, it was difficult to kind of hold faith.

"Especially when there's six DTM drivers hunting for two Formula E seats.

"That was one of the options [staying in the DTM], for sure. But on the contrary, SPM very well said that they're not going to leave a seat open for me.

"The fact that the stars aligned, and Mercedes let me get out of my contract one year early to come here, everything worked better than expected."

Leaving Mercedes "dumb" if it stayed in DTM

Wickens says he would have been "dumb" to leave a manufacturer seat for IndyCar if Mercedes had continued in the DTM.

"DTM [and Mercedes] deciding their future was a massive decider on what I was ultimately going to do," he said.

"I was pretty public about my interest in IndyCar. But when you have a job opportunity as good as Mercedes in DTM, you're kind of dumb if you give up that up to start something new at this point in my career."

He also added that he has left Mercedes in an inconvenient situation for next year, as it needs a new driver in its last season in the championship.

But Wickens said it was essential he ended his association with Mercedes positively so that he could potentially race with the manufacturer in the future.

"I'm not trying to sugar-coat things when I said [Mercedes] was probably the best six years of my life to date," he said.

"Thankfully with Ulrich Fritz and Toto [Wolff] and everyone, I feel like we left all on very good terms.

"I definitely didn't make their lives any easier, having to find a replacement driver for their final year in DTM.

"If I can do a couple of one-off GT races at Mercedes I'd love to. But on the same token, I think they have their own 'go-to' GT drivers that they keep using time and time again.

"I feel like there's an opportunity to meet again in another category."

shares
comments
McLaren F1 junior de Vries part of Audi DTM young-driver test team

Previous article

McLaren F1 junior de Vries part of Audi DTM young-driver test team

Next article

Push for DTM/Super GT 'inter-series' race back on after Motegi demo

Push for DTM/Super GT 'inter-series' race back on after Motegi demo
Load comments
How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions Plus

How the DTM's shambolic finale poses awkward future questions

OPINION: The scenes at the Norisring as Mercedes used blatant team orders to secure the first DTM title of the new GT3 era totally undermined the credibility of the championship. But as well as overshadowing the season, it also presents uncomfortable questions to series bosses about the direction it is headed in

DTM
Oct 12, 2021
How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream" Plus

How Audi's new DTM star is channeling Rast to achieve his "childhood dream"

Having learned the ropes in GT3 alongside Rene Rast, Kelvin van der Linde is in line to take up the three-time champion's baton as Audi's new DTM king. From humble origins in South Africa, it's been a remarkable journey so far for the current series leader, but he knows that the 2021 title is a long way from settled just yet

DTM
Sep 18, 2021
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Plus

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Plus

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Plus

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch - but he knows it won't be easy...

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Plus

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One rule set, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race

DTM
Oct 13, 2020
How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror Plus

How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror

Opel's fortunes in the DTM had taken a turn for the worst by 2003 - hardly the pedigree that suggested it could take on the toughest 24-hour race of them all. But that's exactly what it did

DTM
Sep 23, 2020
The season that revitalised a sleeping giant Plus

The season that revitalised a sleeping giant

On the 20th anniversary of the resumption of hostilities in the DTM, Autosport revisits a classic season that brought a staple of German motorsport back to life with a bang and set in motion the careers of some notable names

DTM
May 28, 2020