Wehrlein ready if Mercedes seat becomes available for 2017


Credit: Octane Photographic

Following his late call up to drive the W07 for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 team at the Barcelona Test on Wednesday, Pascal Wehrlein is now certain that if a seat did become available with the German squad, he would be ready to step up to the challenge.

Wehrlein made no qualms about stepping in at short notice for the Silver Arrows squad, who had originally planned to run Renault Sport F1 reserve driver Esteban Ocon on day two. However, after assessing new parts with current championship leader Nico Rosberg on Tuesday, the team decided they needed a more experienced race driver to continue the evaluation for the remainder of the test. Mercedes were trialling an upgraded front suspension system that they believe will give them a boost ahead of Monaco, perhaps a sign that the German squad are troubled by their direct competitor’s recent performance gains.

Wehrlein is highly regarded by the Brackley based squad, after becoming the youngest ever winner of the DTM championship whilst driving for Mercedes, as well as impressing since moving over to Formula 1 with the Manor Racing team, a seat the squad helped their young protégé acquire. The German’s name was first choice once Mercedes bosses realised they needed more experience behind the wheel and a phone call was made to request Wehrlein’s services on Tuesday night. Speaking to motorsport.com, the Manor Racing driving explained exactly what happened.

“I think yesterday they couldn’t finish the test program and they wanted an experienced driver, so yesterday evening I got the call and went back to the race track, did the seat fit and was driving today.

“I think it has been half a year since I have been in this car. It just feels great to be back and it really feels different, so I had to get the feeling back because this year I wasn’t in the simulator a lot. So I needed to change the steering wheel, all the buttons were in different positions. I enjoyed the day in the car and got used to it and it was a great day.”

With the contract of Rosberg up for renewal at the end of this season, it is no secret that a place could become available with the German team in 2017, and with rumours also rife that Rosberg has been seen talking to the Scuderia Ferrari squad in Barcelona, it would only be normal for Wehrlein to hope he would be the first name on the Brackley based squad’s minds, should the potential for a move arise. If that opportunity does become available the German-Mauritian will be ready to accept with open arms. Speaking to motorsport.com, Wehrlein re-iterated his devotion to seeing his dream of driving for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 team full-time, become a reality.

“Yes I would be ready. You always are, you cannot relax, step back, hope or be sure of what happens next year or the next years, so you always need to push. You always need to push yourself and make the best out of it.” said Wehrlien.

Wehrlein made a strong impression at the second round of the F1 season in Bahrain, when the German almost made it through to Q2 in qualifying after an impressive lap saw the Manor Racing driver bump up the order to sixteenth place, just three tenths off the time needed to see him through. That performance was not a one off, as the German rookie also impressed during the race, finishing a very respectable thirteenth, expertly passing and battling with the faster Sauber, Renault Sport and Sahara Force India cars along the way. It was an accomplished drive from a clear young star of the future, whose F1 career could now be elevated sooner rather than later.