Mercedes seat ‘too early’ for Wehrlein – Wolff

Jan.19 (GMM) Mercedes steered away from signing Pascal Wehrlein for 2017 because it would have been “too early” for the young German.

That is the claim of team boss Toto Wolff, as he spoke to Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport about having signed Williams’ Valtteri Bottas instead.

Asked if he was already thinking of Bottas’ name when Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement, Wolff said: “No.

“First of all, it was necessary to evaluate all the options on the driver market. We needed an experienced and fast driver.”

Asked why that was not Wehrlein, the 22-year-old cream of Mercedes’ development programme, Wolff said: “We decided that it was too early for him to become Lewis’ teammate.

“For Pascal and Esteban Ocon we have our own programme, designed for two or three years.”

For 2017, Wehrlein is instead heading to Sauber, a Ferrari-powered team.

Asked if this means Sauber could switch to Mercedes power for 2018, Wolff answered: “No, the contracts with the drivers are in no way connected with the engines.

“We respect the partnership between Sauber and Ferrari,” he insisted.

What Wolff would admit is that getting Bottas out of his Williams contract, involving pulling Felipe Massa out of retirement to replace the Finn, cost Mercedes money.

“We could not make them an offer without offering anything in return,” he said.

“Claire Williams is a smart businesswoman. But we talked not only about financial matters. Williams also needed an experienced driver and Felipe had to be persuaded to return. But in the end everyone is happy,” added Wolff.

Asked if Mercedes is paying for Massa’s return, he confirmed: “Yes, obviously.”

But Wolff said his focus is now on getting Bottas up to speed, as after that process “We expect that he will be able to drive at the level of Nico Rosberg”.

“We need him and Lewis to motivate each other and get the atmosphere that provoked the performances of Nico and Lewis,” said Wolff.

Asked if Hamilton-Bottas could be as good as Hamilton-Rosberg but without the conflict, Wolff answered: “I hope so.”

As for the controversy about Bottas’ mere one-year contract at Mercedes, Wolff played that down.

“If Valtteri fights for the world championship in 2017, or if he becomes world champion, then he will stay with Mercedes,” he is quoted by Bild newspaper.

Related News

  • 16/02/2016 Wehrlein, Ocon to share Mercedes reserve role Feb.16 (GMM) Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon will share the role as Mercedes' reserve driver in 2016. Last year, as he charged towards the DTM title, it was Wehrlein who would have […]
  • 20/01/2017 Mercedes seat may have ‘destroyed’ Wehrlein – Wolff Jan.20 (GMM) Toto Wolff says the retirement of Nico Rosberg was regarded as an "opportunity" for Mercedes rather than a problem. The world champion team has signed up long-time Williams […]
  • 22/07/2016 Mercedes eyes ‘next generation’ after Rosberg Jul.22 (GMM) Mercedes could be ready to look to the "next generation" of drivers by the time Nico Rosberg's new two-year deal ends. That was the claim on Friday of Toto Wolff, as he […]
  • 19/01/2017 Giovinazzi won’t stagnate in Ferrari role – Wolff Jan.19 (GMM) Toto Wolff has played down fears the career of new Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi might stagnate in 2017. After almost winning the GP2 title, the 23-year-old Italian has […]
  • 17/01/2017 Last pieces of 2017 puzzle in place Jan.17 (GMM) The last major pieces of the 2017 grid have fallen into place. Mercedes announced that Valtteri Bottas is joining the reigning world champions, Williams said Felipe Massa […]
  • 19/12/2016 Wehrlein more ‘risky’ than Bottas – Rosberg Dec.19 (GMM) Nico Rosberg says Mercedes should consider taking the "risk" of signing up German youngster Pascal Wehrlein to replace him for 2017. The German team will use the full […]
  • 12/05/2015 Ferrari criticised for Barcelona test lineup May 12 (GMM) The only team missing from the post-race Barcelona test this week is Manor. "There is nothing to test," Britain's Times newspaper quoted deputy boss Graeme Lowdon as saying […]
  • 05/12/2016 Vettel plays down Mercedes move rumour Dec.5 (GMM) Sebastian Vettel has responded to the seismic Nico Rosberg retirement story simply by referring to his Ferrari contract. The German's name is linked with his departing […]
  • 02/06/2016 Mercedes has options if Rosberg talks fail – Wolff Jun.2 (GMM) Pascal Wehrlein is a real alternative for Mercedes as early as next year should negotiations with Nico Rosberg falter. That is the warning of team boss Toto Wolff, as it […]
  • 26/01/2017 Wolff admits Bottas rivals on 2018 radar Jan.26 (GMM) Toto Wolff has admitted that Valtteri Bottas needs to prove he should keep his new seat at Mercedes beyond 2017. Unusually for a top team, Mercedes has signed only a […]