Pascal Wehrlein looks set to make his formula one test debut next week — in a Force India.
After skipping Jerez amid rumours of unpaid bills and supplier trouble, the Silverstone based team is now bound for Barcelona for the second test.
But the 2015 car – the unseen VJM08 – is still not ready, although it is believed the monocoque has now been delivered to the team’s factory.
“The plan is to introduce it (the 2015 car) at the final test,” a Force India spokesman confirmed.
The team has instead taken its 2014 car to Barcelona, but until now it has not been clear who will be at the wheel.
German media reports in the last days had suggested that after money promised by Sergey Sirotkin’s Russian sponsors did not arrive for the first test, Force India was set to try again to ‘sell’ the seat.
Now, it emerges that Pascal Wehrlein, a DTM driver and Mercedes’ new 2015 reserve, is set to secure the Force India seat for the Barcelona test.
Last December, Toto Wolff – the team boss at Force India’s engine supplier, Mercedes – said he was seeking a “reserve or test role or any Friday (practice) role with a smaller team” this year for German Wehrlein, who is 20.
Ralf Bach, a German correspondent for Sport Bild who also writes a blog at f1-insider.com, said he has heard that Force India is yet to pay its latest Mercedes engine bill.
“Only the use of Wehrlein, it is said, will secure Force India’s engines for the test in Barcelona,” he claimed.
“Regular drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will have to wait until the third and final test just before the start of the season in Australia,” Bach added. (GMM)