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Insight: What kind of driver is Manor Formula 1 rookie Pascal Wehrlein?
Pascal Wehrlein
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  10 Feb 2016   |  1:16 pm GMT  |  62 comments

Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein will drive for Manor Racing in the 2016 Formula 1 season, it was announced today.

So what do we know about him and what kind of driver is he?

Wehrlein, who won the 2015 DTM championship for the German marque, had been linked with a seat at the British team for some time after the Manor secured a supply of 2016 Mercedes power units for the new season.

Pascal Wehrlein

That deal is thought to be an important factor in the decision to hire Wehrlein as the squad is hoping to make progress with its up-to-date engines, as well as a new gearbox built by Williams, and it is understood that the team felt the 21-year-old would offer more performance potential than a better-funded driver.

That said there is likely to have been a financial offset against the €20m cost of engine supply from Mercedes. Force India considered a deal with Wehrlein but the discount on offer, thought to be around €4m a year, was not enough to tempt them to drop either of their more established stars.

Wehrlein scored two victories on his way to the DTM title last year as he became the youngest champion in the history of the series and has tested for the Mercedes F1 team and Force India in the past.

Pascal Wehrlein

Speaking about his new deal, Werhlein said: “Manor Racing is a great place for me to start my Formula One racing career – I’m very pleased to be here. It’s a small and totally focused team and I soon hope to know everyone. Though it’s my first F1 season my aim is to help Stephen and the guys achieve their goals.

“It will be a tough challenge but I think we should be able to challenge for points along the way. It’s going to be good fun. A word for my racing family at Mercedes-Benz, and particularly for Toto, who have guided my career this far and made this opportunity possible. Thanks for the incredible support to help me achieve my dream; now it’s down to me to grab the moment and perform on track.”

Manor’s owner, Stephen Fitzpatrick, explained that his team is hoping to step up from the back of the grid in 2016 and join the midfield scrap that could feature F1’s newest team, Haas F1.

He said: “Pascal is a sharp driver with a very promising future; Manor Racing is excited to have him aboard. We’re a small team up for a big challenge this season, so we’ve chosen a driver with the talent and hunger to match our own on-track ambitions.

“Pascal has impressed in testing for Mercedes and Force India, together with commanding performances in DTM, culminating in the championship win last year. Manor Racing is perfectly placed to help Pascal make a big impact in his first season. We’re looking forward to it!”

Pascal Wehrlein

Manor is still yet to confirm who will fill its second seat, the final spot on the grid for this season, with its 2015 drivers Will Stevens, Alexander Rossi in contention alongside GP2 race winner, Rio Haryanto.

Consistency key to DTM success

Wehrlein switched to the DTM after strong results in junior single seaters. He won the ADAC Formel Masters title in 2011 and was runner-up in the 2012 Formula 3 Euro Series.

Pascal Wehrlein

The Mercedes C-Coupe he raced for his first seasons in DTM was a difficult car to drive in 2013 and 2014. But when Mercedes improved the car, although it was not the fastest in 2015, Wehrlein produced the results necessary to challenge for the championship.

Consistency was the most important factor in his title run as he scored 15 points finishes from 18 races to go along with his brace of victories. The DTM’s success ballast system makes it very difficult for one driver to dominate, as evidenced by the 13 different race winners in 2015.

Wehrlein’s two victories came at Moscow and Norisring – in the former he pressured and passed BMW’s Marco Wittmann to claim the win, while at Norisring he survived a difficult early phase on a damp track before moving up the order to win by 0.3s.

Pascal Wehrlein

The most bizarre moment of Wehrlien’s 2015 season came in the second race at the Red Bull Ring when he was forced out as a result of Audi driver Timo Scheider hitting the German’s Mercedes teammate Robert Wickens after receiving a radio call to “push him out.” Wehrlein said after the race that Scheider had started a “war” in the series.

F1 preparation

JaonF1 technical advisor, Dominic Harlow, explained that the DTM is good preparation for F1 because the cars offer similar performance levels to F3, along with a field of top-quality drivers and F1-inspired team operations.

He said: “It’s very good preparation for F1. In terms of the cars, they reward quite similar things in a driver to F3 cars and you find that the F3 drivers adapt and prosper in the DTM car because it’s got a lot of downforce and it’s underpowered. It’s quite heavy but the power-to-weight and power-to-grip is similar to F3.

Pascal Wehrlein

“There are also so grown-up circuits and there is a field of very professional drivers, which is definitely a rung up from F3.

“The teams’ working practices are all derived from F1 so operationally it’s almost identical. You have a good commercial grounding too, so the drivers do quite a lot of promotion and marketing so that doesn’t come as such a shock when they get to F1.

“The only thing lacking is the car development and technology. It’s probably only a little bit more advanced than GP2 in that respect.”

Pascal Wehrlein


What do you make of Pascal Wehrlein? Will he shine with Manor in his debut year in F1? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Nice to see them not going for the Driver with the most money, though still one seat to go.


Binky 100% agree with you. Glad they picked talent instead of a paid driver. Pascals contract is only for one year at Manor.That really does put the frighteners on Rosbergs contract extension. It looks like Pascal is being readied for his seat at Mercedes.


Rosberg might have to win this year to hold onto his seat.


Good to see another youngster getting a chance, he's darn well earned it too.


Blimey, if Manor hope to be in the midfield in 2016, who exactly will be the backmarker team.

Otherwise, congratulations to Pascal and thanks to Toto for making this move happen as Pascal is an exciting prospect to add on the starting grid.

Even though DTM drivers tend to struggle in F1, I think Pascal has the potential to be the exception as he is so young and comes with positive hype around him.

So yes the 2016 grid is looking like the most talented grid the sport has had since Piquet/Mansell/Senna/Prost were applying their trade.

As for the question do I think Pascal will shine in his debut year, well the simple answer is yes because he beat Lewis in the Mercedes cars and stripes event in 2015.


Really? That Stars and Stripes event doesn't have anything to do with F1!


@ Michael

The theory is, if Pascal was fast and beat Lewis in the Mercedes event then he could possibly be fast in F1 too


McHonda obviously!




@ TonyB

Hmm... It's a possibility


Know what you mean, it would be strange if Manor were to be faster than say, Torro Rosso.

DTM should be alright, Paul Di Resta was fairly handy, matched Hulk no problem in races and qually, till the last couple of races where Hulk outscored him.


@ Clarks4WheelDrift

Oh yes, Paul had good odds to take the Mercedes seat once Schumi retired


I'm not so sure there will be an outright 'backmarker' team. Yes, someone has to finish last, but with all the teams you can make a case for them NOT finishing last - the Merc engine and improvements at Manor, HAAS being heavily Ferrari supported, Honda having moved on a bit with McLaren, Sauber designing a mostly new car, Renault being factory backed...

I think it's going to be very tight at the back of the grid. I don't know about the title decider, but 'the race not to finish last' could go down to the final GP!


I can't wait for the mid-field battles this year. It seems like it will be the place to be. Poor old silver arrow drivers! (I've had a blank....what were their names again, and who sponsors their car?)


Since I can't write what i think without getting my message deleted I will say this. It's nice to have drivers who's talented on the grid. The battle at the back of the grid will be great this year, even if it's an intra team battle.

I think there is alot of hope for Wehrlein in the F1 community. He's done were well in testing and DTM and will probably be a star to watch alongside Verstappen and Sainz.


Manor will be at the back of the field for this year. Whats interesting is the next two years. Mercedes questioned what was legal if the Ferrari/Manor cooperation and i guess they found an answer.

Since the deal will give Manor use of the Mercedes windtunnel I think that for next years, they will move up alot on the grid. If Haas is competetive i fear for Sauber being a team to fall back alot in the next few years. There will be 3 teams with a B-team attached to them. Red Bull/Toro Rosso, Ferrari/Hass and Mercedes/Manor.

The worrying thing about that is that it will be 3 teams running about all of F1. All of us know that Ferrari is getting something out of working with Haas, they wouldnt do it otherwise. I dont mind the idea of there being 3 manufacturers, if it wouldnt be for F1 as a buisness. Politics is to big of a deal in this sport.

Look at MotoGp. They have 3 manufacturers, with sattelite teams below them. It works great for them becouse they are willing to work together for the sport to move forwards. Sadly i think there is no way on earth that Ferrari, Mercedes and Redbull or Renault would ever work together.

Sorry if this post is off topic but its just what i think off this signing:P


@ Daniel M

Aah it seems for once we're going to have a football style relegation battle going on at the back of the grid


Good choice.


Will be very interested to see how Wehrlien does, DTM hasn't been a hotbed of F1 talent in the past (di Resta is probably the most accomplished of them). It does look like Mercedes are grooming him for a senior seat when Rosberg's contract runs out, unless Nico really steps up his game in 2016.


I think it will be a case of easing him into F1 under the radar like RBR did with Dan in the HRT, so I wouldn't be expecting too much from him in year one


2017 will be the year when there are lots of vacancies up for grabs!

All in a probability, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are going into final season as grand prix drivers - so you don't need to be an Oxford Professor of Higher Mathematics to work out that Williams, McLaren and the Maranello Boys will be looking for three drivers to fill those vacancies, and God only knows who will that be? Add on the fourth dimension that is Mercedes unconfirmed line up for 2017.............and that makes 4 attempts at musical chairs.

Perhaps they can put up an recruitment advert on Auto Trader's web site:

"Wanted, young man with experience of 900 Horsepower hybrid machine and able to function with ERS, PAS, DRS, ECU, KERS but no ABS and FRIC. Preferably aged between late 20s to mid 30s. Please bring a suitable medical certificate as proof of fitness. No agencies and time wasters please."


There's no such thing as an 'Oxford Professor of Higher Mathematics'. A fanciful title, just like your speculation.


And a super licence is also a necessity! A real life one not one from gran torismo


Don't forget to add: $,$$$,$$$ will also be considered.


Don't forget Renault will may need an experienced driver for 2017 too....


Hamilton was already beaten by Wehrlein in 2015 at Cars and Stars at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart. So it is only a question of time when Wehrlein will replace Hamilton at Mercedes F1.


I'm guessing by your handle that you're a Vettel fan. Vettel's results in the individual event at the Race of Champions are:

- beaten by Heikki Kovaleinen in 2007, in the Round of 16

- beaten by Sebastien Loeb in 2008, in the QFs

- beaten by Schumacher in 2009

- beaten twice by Felipe Albuquerque (once in group stages; again in SF) in 2010 who???

- beaten by Tom Kristensen & Schumacher in 2011

- beaten by Grosjean in 2012

If Cars & Stars was so definitive, then what do Vettel's past results in RoC mean?

Fact is, a one-off 2 lap race means absolutely nothing. A whole season of being beaten by your teammate, with no real highlight or moment(s) of brilliance to speak of, says quite a bit more.


Why do you drag vettel in this? you say you guess but he could easaly be a Button,Rosberg or Alonso supporter..

You don't like vettel, we know that already...


Hamilton's many failings must only be obvious to your self, Seifenkistler...


And Juncadella beat Wehrlein, surely Mercedes must be moving heaven and earth to cancel Lewis and Nico's contracts and to replace them with these two absolute driving GODS.

(They also finished higher than Nico Rosberg, two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, former F1 and DTM driver David Coulthard and record DTM championship winner Bernd Schneider. ALL IN THE SAME DAY. THEY BEAT THEM ALL.)



Steady on! There has yet to be one lap completed in 2016 spec..............never mind the season starting!




The best available choice for Manor, Stevens and Haryanto will be buried by him, Rossi will be in a real knife fight. Werhlein will define the pace of the car, whoever sits in the 2nd seat will be measured by the gap and may suffer a shortened career for the comparison.

If it were my millions supporting a young drivers F1 dream I might think twice about putting him in a seat next to Werhlein.

The first races, before the development wars have a chance to sort the rich from the poor, are going to be very interesting.


A good choice, I guess Ryo Haryanto will get the other seat now a quick driver has been confirmed. I doubt Manor could afford to run Rossi and Wehrlein.


very very tough to call. HAAS have 2 experienced drivers who have worked with WDC & WC teams in the past but the Manor team have a little head start on HAAS in actual racing and the class leading Mercedes engine. Alot will depend on how good that Ferrari PU is. It should be a cracker of a fight between them & Im expecting young Pascal to shine- the one thing that impressed me is just how adaptable he is jumping from FI to Merc in testing and delivering great times immediately. Definitely star potential & if I had to I would say he will beat whomever he partners except maybe Rossi - hope Manor sign him.


"If it were my millions supporting a young drivers F1 dream I might think twice about putting him in a seat next to Werhlein."

If you didn't believe your driver could beat anyone he came up against, why would you be backing him in the first place?


Hopefully Manor beat Haas.


James - not much has been written about the relative performance of Manor's 2015 drivers - Stevens, Mehri and Rossi. Looks like Stevens had the upper hand early in the season but Mehri caught up later in the season. Though given that Rossi has much less time in the car, I felt he outperformed Stevens. Should Rossi be given the nod based on potential (and also maybe marketing clout?)


Even a driver of the caliber of Wehrlein is ultimately a 'pay driver' in current F1 - it's just Mercedes that's doing the paying by lopping something off the engine bill.

Still, great chance for him and nice to see some talent coming through who has been through, and succeeded in, the traditional learning grounds (DTM aside).

The proof will be in the laptime, but Manor really seem to have taken a sensible, practical and clever approach to recruitment and their plans for 2016.


Wow thats a tough question, a moment of reflection yielded no answers!

What swung it for me is the likely budget Hass will have, questionable amounts of support from Ferrari as well as the PU that will give very little away to Merc or even be equal or better; and finally Romain Grosjean's experience.

The real question is will Hass beat McLaren ??


As someone who has followed Williams and MCL since the early 80's with a passion it pains me to say that MCL (unless Honda have unlocked something) may be in a race to avoid back marker status


Mclaren/Honda's budget and resource should realistically get them a fair way up the grid. They should have fixed a lot of the fundamental problems with their engine over winter. If they haven't and they are still towards the back then it will get ugly. Alonso certainly won't hang around long and might just wait till the 2017 car or even change team. His options are pretty limited, Renault? Try force a move to Red Bull for 2017 maybe?


Good luck to him and he's getting the best possible start.

Me thinks if Lewis had of started at the back he would be more complete. Still he's done good, his speed has served him well. Lets hope he gathers all the other things before the speed declines.


Hamilton didn't start in the back because he was too good! When will you guys get that in your heads! You sound ridiculous!


sorry......... too good.


Yeah the China gravel trap of 2007 was so good and the skin of the teeth championship the next year against Massa was so good.............Oh and the car from the last 2 years that is so good.


I wasn't actually that impressed with his DTM year last year. He definitely had better luck, and was clearly the Merc driver with the best results early enough for them to focus on him. But, he's still a good young driver, and I hope he does well 🙂


There is a lot of fuss about Ferrari updates for 2016 season, but what about Merc, McLaren, RB updates? Seems like none bother to leak or publish.


The PU is but one piece of the puzzle. Has Manor's chassis and aero packages since they joined the melee been up to standard? (its a sincere question). I really have no idea. The fear (perhaps unfounded) I have is of inexperienced F1 drivers enjoying great straight line speed but without the complete package, losing it and taking other mid field cars out in the process. To quote Webber, 'Lap-one nut case(s)'.


True, but your crappy package is going to lap faster with 900hp than with 800hp...


Yes, but they were faster than the Marucia...


Mclaren proved otherwise in '14 with the Merc engine.


The flip side of "consistency" being the key to his success is that he's actually won surprisingly few races in his career. In other words, his outright pace is something still in doubt. Apart from the 2011 ADAC campaign he has six wins and five poles in his last eighty-six races. Di Rsta's (first) stint in DTM was more impressive.

Clearly Mercedes think he's got something and I look forward to seeing how he fares this season. But going by his past record he does not strike me as future WDC material.


Tell that to the other guys on here who thinks he's going to replace Rosberg or Hamilton. lol


I agree with this. He doesn't look to have sparkling speed. Also in F3 he was very consistent but had few wins.

He just appears to be Mercedes chosen one for whatever reason.


If we assume Manor F1 is like a feeder team for the main mercedes effort this looks like the germans thinking ahead to develop the next German superstar.

Even babyface rosberg will have been around too long eventually.

While we are at it this obsession with who is going to finish last .

Even if all the cars were exactly the same someone is still going to finish last at the end of the season.


So many young drivers on the grid now.. Kyvat, Sainz, Verstappen and now Wehrlein. They can't all be make it to the top, and the current generation of Bottas/Grosjean/Hulk are finding out.



What does your gut say, who will get the number two seat?


Hopefully, Rossi!

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