It has been a strong start to his debut F1 season for Pascal Wehrlein, who has already managed to score a point for the Manor Racing Team, with an excellent drive at the Austrian Grand Prix back in July. The 21-year-old has also made a number of appearances in the Q2 section of qualifying, a feat the Banbury based squad were maybe not expecting to achieve so early on in their campaign.
The German is part of the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS family, having driven and won the championship for the Brackley based squad in the DTM series back in 2015, and he still receives welcome backing from the current F1 world champions whilst he attempts to forge out a F1 career with the Manor Racing Team.
Wehrlein has enjoyed his journey so far, and is also pleased with his overall performance, especially helping Manor to move ahead of the Sauber F1 Team in the Constructor’s Championship standings.
“Formula 1 has been a really cool experience for me so far. It’s like a dream come true. I’ve also had some successes, most notably of course my first points finish at Spielberg.
“Thanks to this result, we are ahead of Sauber in the constructors’ championship. This is a great position for our team to be in and one that we aim to defend to the end of the season.”
In terms of targets for the remainder of his 2016 campaign, the German commented that although it was difficult for him to set specific goals at the beginning of the year, as the team has improved, his aims of what can seriously be achieved have become higher.
“At the beginning of the season, it was hard to set targets. My main ambition was to score points as a Manor driver. But given our situation, I knew that would be no easy task.
“The team has made a huge step forward this year, and the car has developed extremely well during the season. From that perspective, we have achieved our goals and also had some successes such as in Bahrain, in Austria and in qualifying last weekend in Belgium.
“When you achieve your primary targets, you obviously set your next targets even higher. We’ve managed to bridge the gap to the midfield. We now intend to take more steps forward during the rest of the season.
“In this regard, the upcoming race weekend at Monza is going to be very important, as we think that our strong Mercedes Power Unit should once again stand us in good stead.”
Being the resident DTM expert in the F1 paddock, having been the youngest ever race winner at the age of nineteen, before becoming the youngest ever Series winner the following year, it would be foolish not to ask the young driver to give his opinion on the German Touring Car season so far. As expected, he had plenty to say on the 2016 action, including his punt for who will take over his crown as the overall champion.
“Obviously, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my former Mercedes team-mates. From their perspective, the season has been going very well.
“I’ve been very pleased about that, because the team initially didn’t know exactly how well the new car would perform. But it turned out that Mercedes were now highly competitive on tracks where they wouldn’t have expected to be in the last few years, and that they’ve got the best out of the car there.
“I’m expecting the title chase to be a straight fight between BMW and Mercedes. My prediction is that it will be either Marco Wittmann or Robert Wickens. They are the two drivers who I regard as most likely to win the championship this season.
“In the last few races, we’ve seen how each of the three manufacturers has been focusing on one or at the most two drivers. It’s apparent to me that the manufacturers who were complaining loudest last year are now relying heavily on strategy. So for that reason, I wouldn’t rule any of the current Top Five or Top Six out of contention.”
Going into the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Wehrlein is confident that he can once again make it into Q2, with the strong Mercedes power unit having brought a big boost to the Manor Racing Team’s performance, as well as their confidence this year. The German sees no reason why they cannot perhaps even score a point or two on Sunday at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.