‘Wehrlein Deserves to be in F1,’ Says Man Who Could Have Done Something About It
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says it is unfair that Pascal Wehrlein look to be out of a drive for the 2018 Formula One season after it was announced he would be replaced by Charles Leclerc at Sauber.
“Pascal is in a difficult position because there is not really an open spot for next year if Williams’ door closes,” Wolff told Autosport. “He deserves to be in Formula 1, he is a very good driver. On track his performance was exceptional, and for many other reasons that go much beyond the driving the doors haven’t opened like we would have hoped. But I think he has the potential of being a successful Formula 1 driver.”
Wehrlein, a member of the Mercedes young driver program, joined Formula One in 2016 after becoming the youngest-ever DTM champion the year before. He started with Manor Racing and scored the team’s only point at the Austrian Grand Prix, but the team went bankrupt.
At this point a big opportunity arose: Nico Rosberg retired after winning the championship, leaving an open seat at Mercedes, the team most likely to win the title in 2017. It was a great opportunity for Wolff to promote Wehrlein but, sensing a strong challenge from Ferrari, he was overlooked in favor of the more seasoned Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas’ performance in 2017 turned out to be solid but not sensational. Wehrlein managed to secure a seat at Sauber F1 and again scored the team’s only points and winning the head-to-head against teammate Marcus Ericsson—but when it came time to make room for Leclerc it was Ericsson who got to stay on, thanks to the backing of his Swedish sponsors, rather than Wehrlein.
The only available seat is now the one at Williams being contested by Sergey Sirotkin and Robert Kubica. Mercedes and Wolff could be pushing to get Wehrlein a drive at Williams, which it supplies with engines, but it seems the young driver has not received the support he might have expected.
News Source: Autosport