Mar.17 (GMM) Pascal Wehrlein says Mercedes did not sign him up for 2017 in order to safeguard the longevity of his F1 career.
German Wehrlein, 22, is the senior member of Mercedes’ driver development programme and was therefore a favourite when Nico Rosberg announced his shock decision to quit F1 late last year.
But ultimately, the older and more experienced Toto Wolff-linked driver Valtteri Bottas was signed up for 2017, on a mere single-season contract.
“Toto told me he didn’t want to burn me,” Wehrlein told Germany’s Sport Bild.
“He said they still believe in me and that I should instead build myself up in peace. Of course I hoped for a change to the world champion team, but when Mercedes went for Bottas, I wasn’t too disappointed.
“Why? Because my original ‘plan A’ was still fulfilled,” he said.
That ‘plan A’ was the 2017 move from the backmarker Manor to Sauber, a more established midfield team.
But winter testing has shown that, after almost collapsing last year and now set to use Ferrari’s 2016-spec engine this year, Sauber will almost certainly be F1’s new backmarker in 2017.
Still, Wehrlein is happy.
“Sauber is at the beginning of an era,” he said. “There is enormous potential in the team and I am proud to be a part of this building back up. We have a highly professional, international team.”
For instance, Wehrlein said he was blown away by Sauber’s state of the art wind tunnel at Hinwil, adding: “As I said, I think there is huge potential in the team.
08/12/2016 Rosberg backs Wehrlein for 2017 seat Dec.8 (GMM) New world champion Nico Rosberg has backed countryman Pascal Wehrlein's suitability to replace him at Mercedes.
Stars including Fernando Alonso are also on the team's 2017 […]
24/03/2016 Rosberg first in queue for 2017 talks – Wolff Mar.24 (GMM) Nico Rosberg is first in the queue to race with Mercedes in 2017. That is the claim of team boss Toto Wolff, with media reports in Germany declaring that 30-year-old […]
05/07/2016 Rumours link Wehrlein with Force India seat Jul.5 (GMM) Rumours are linking Pascal Wehrlein with a potential move to Force India for 2017.
In Austria, after the rookie German qualified his Manor in 12th place and then secured an […]
14/01/2017 Berger would have picked Wehrlein over Bottas Jan.14 (GMM) F1 legend Gerhard Berger says that if he was in charge at Mercedes, he would have signed Pascal Wehrlein for 2017.
The former Ferrari and McLaren driver helped negotiate […]
25/04/2016 Bottas admits to eyeing Mercedes seat Apr.25 (GMM) Valtteri Bottas has admitted he would not say no if a seat opened up for him at the works Mercedes team. The Finn has driven throughout his four-season F1 career for […]
17/02/2016 Wehrlein to be Manor ‘measuring stick’ – Wolff Feb.17 (GMM) Pascal Wehrlein leapt back into the running to race at Manor this year as the backmarker team got serious about its plans for 2016. That is the claim of Mercedes team boss […]
08/06/2016 Zetsche says Wehrlein is Mercedes ‘future’ Jun.8 (GMM) As Nico Rosberg's expiring contract comes under the spotlight, Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche has revealed his vision for Mercedes' F1 "future".
"Pascal (Wehrlein) is our […]
11/03/2016 Wehrlein sure Manor right for F1 debut Mar.11 (GMM) Pascal Wehrlein is confident Manor is the right place for his F1 debut. The reigning DTM champion is stepping up with the strong backing of Mercedes, but some believe […]