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Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon earned F1 roles on merit - Toto Wolff

Mirko Stange/Sutton Images

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says his team's young drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their new F1 roles on talent alone.

DTM champion Wehrlein will race for Manor this year and GP3 champion Ocon will join Renault as a reserve driver. With money tight up and down the grid, several drivers are employed as a result of lucrative financial packages, but Wolff insists both of the Mercedes protégés have earned their place on merit.

"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."