Pascal Wehrlein has admitted that he wasn’t ready to drive for world champions Mercedes, having only made his F1 debut in 2016.
Wehrlein was in frame for a seat at Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s bombshell decision to retire from the sport after winning the title last year. The German is a member of the Silver Arrow’s driver programme and had impressed in his rookie season, scoring points for Manor at the Austrian Grand Prix.
However, Mercedes eventually opted more experienced Valtteri Bottas, leaving the 22-year-old at Sauber.
Wehrlein, who returned to the cockpit of an F1 car for the first time since his Race of Champions crash on Tuesday, has now come out in support of Mercedes’ decision, saying he himself wasn’t ready for the role.
“I knew I would be one of the candidates, one of the possible drivers, but I didn't focus on that,” he said in Barcelona. “He [Toto] explained we think it would be good to have more experience for you, one year is not enough, especially in the second year drivers are always making big progress. When you might not have enough experience it is not enough.
“I think Mercedes wants to have a ready and perfect driver and at their limit. At the moment I am not at my limit, I could be with experience, that is clear.”
“With one year of experience you are not at your limit and you will do some mistakes. Sometimes you will go in the wrong direction with the set-up because you lack experience. If you have five years of knowledge and experience, or even more, the mistakes are a lot less than with one year,” he added.
Mercedes’ decision to overlook Wehrlein came after the German was snubbed for a Force India seat by fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon.
With Manor going out of business, Wehrlein was forced to accept a seat at Sauber, which finished 10th in the championship last season.
by Rachit Thukral