Wehrlein to speak with Force India about why they overlooked him for 2017


Credit: Manor Racing

Pascal Wehrlein plans to speak with Sahara Force India F1 Team to ask why they overlooked him for their 2017 Formula 1 driver line-up.

On Thursday, the Silverstone-based outfit confirmed that Wehrlein’s Manor Racing MRT team-mate Esteban Ocon, would join them for 2017, after signing a multi-year contract. Ocon is part of the same Mercedes Junior programme as Wehrlein, meaning both drivers had the opportunity. Wehrlein has also previously tested with Force India.

Wehrlein confirmed to reporters at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, that he will be asking the team why he was overlooked. As well as what he can improve from his end.

“I don’t know if it was the test why they decided, or something else,” said Wehrlein.

“Of course I will ask why, or what happened, what can I improve from my side. Otherwise with the performance on track I’m quite happy. It’s a missed opportunity, but not the end of the world.”

The day before the official announcement, Wehrlein was informed about the decision by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. During his rookie campaign this season, he has made Q2 of Qualifying several times and scored a valuable point at the Austrian Grand Prix when he finished tenth.

Ocon joined Manor mid-season, after Rio Haryanto failed to find funding for the second half. For being a rookie, Ocon has done relatively well but has not definitively out-performed Wehrlein.

Wehrlein refused to say whether the decision by Force India was unfair on him, after performing well this season.

“I don’t want to answer this question because it will just turn out bad for me,” he added. “I can’t change it. All I can do is perform on track. I feel like I did.

“I heard many comments, and even you are asking me these questions, so I think even you think something [is unfair], no?”

Wehrlein’s best hope of remaining in the championship is to stay with Manor. With Force India confirming Ocon, they have now completed their line-up, along with Renault Sport Formula 1 Team confirming they will retain Jolyon Palmer alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

Haas F1 Team are expected to retain Romain Grosjean, with Kevin Magnussen switching from Renault to join the American led outfit. Sauber F1 Team are expected to keep both of their 2016 drivers.

Wehrlein will be happy to stay at Manor, as he feels they can make more progress in their performance next year.

“There are no other cockpits, but I’m happy to stay at Manor – making progress with the team and growing with the team,” said Wehrlein.

“Having results like Austria is great. The team is doing a fantastic job, and we can do another step for next year. That’s the target, but at the moment I don’t have a contract.”