Despite not taking part in the first two races of the season, Pascal Wehrlein has been steadily going about his business, and has already managed to get some unlikely points on the board, unlike team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
It is a recurring theme with the German, that despite not driving a top end machine, he is able to deliver an unexpected performance, scoring a point for Manor Racing MRT last year, and twice finishing inside the top ten with Sauber so far in 2017, his eighth place in Barcelona in particular, an outstanding and pleasing result.
Wehrlein came through to F1 via the Mercedes junior driver programme, who he still receives backing from today, a clear indicator that the German marque has faith in his abilities and is still a top prospect for the future.
Yet despite his obvious talent, he has yet to be rewarded with a seat at a top team, making it more difficult, though not impossible, for the German to show his true potential.
Scoring points in a car that is not considered up to the task is obviously a good starting point, but Wehrlein does not let that play on his mind, as he explained in an interview with the Official Formula 1 website recently.
“I think it gets noticed that I have scored points in cars that under normal circumstances don’t score points. I don’t worry about that.”
The 22-year-old lost out on a full-time seat with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team this year, when Nico Rosberg retired from the sport at the end of 2016, as bosses felt Valtteri Bottas was a more suitable and more experienced option for their assault on the title.
The German has no hard feelings about the decision however, and is happy to wait in the wings to step up when the time is right.
“My target is to one day be in a team where I can win races, get on the podium regularly and fight for championships. Right now I don’t have these tools to make it happen.
“The weekends where we score points are very, very special for us because we don’t have the car to finish in the top ten often – only if the stars are in the right place! (Laughs) Then we have to take the opportunity and bag the points.
“I am very happy that when the chance was there I was able to grab it. I want to be there when it counts.”
Having been linked to a drive with the silver arrows squad in the past, due to his connections with the team, Wehrlein is relaxed about his options even though Bottas is currently having a strong season. The fact that the Finn could stop his progression in that direction does not worry the German at all.
“I cannot influence such a decision, so worrying about things that you cannot influence is wasting your time and wasting your strength and efforts. Yes, Valtteri is doing a good job and he deserves it.”
Wehrlein currently has a contract in place with Sauber for 2017, but after that he is a free agent and on the market, for discussions about a further stint with the Swiss squad, or to possible offers from other potential suitors as well.
“I have a contract for this season so I am only focusing on this year – and the rest is a bit like the Valtteri thing: I cannot influence anything.
“Decisions are made by others and I am only here to drive – to perform as well as I can.”
With Sauber having made a number of changes to their set-up recently, replacing Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn with Frederic Vasseur being the major talking point, if that signing can improve their performance levels, then perhaps the Swiss squad will be a more appealing option for Wehrlein at the end of the season.
“Of course I want to see Sauber do well. They have the potential and have already been in good positions in the past and I want them to get back there. How and when – that is on another page.”