Pascal Wehrlein, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2015

Manor ‘to announce Wehrlein soon’

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In the round-up: DTM champion and Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein will soon be announced as the first of Manor’s drivers for the upcoming season according to a report in Germany.

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Jean Todt believes it is wrong to single out F1 for criticism about domination by one competitor making it boring, but @Todfod argues the way in which that domination happens is key:

Motorsport combines the abilities of man versus engineering excellence in machinery. Fortunately or Unfortunately, it’s 80-90% machine’s performance versus 10-20% the ability of the driver that counts.

The problem is that humans want to look at other fellow human beings as champions, and not a piece of machinery. Can you imagine crowds of people showing up at Wimbledon cheering for Head, Wilson and Babolat tennis racquets? Could you imagine Andrew Murray dominating tennis because he had a Head racquet that no one else on earth possessed? Could you imagine how frustrating it would be if Roger Federer played his heart out every match, only to lose out because his Wilson couldn’t generate as much power compared to his opponent’s racquet? A situation like that would be the end of the sport forever.

To get back to Todt’s statement. Formula One domination is different from every other sport. If the cars were more evenly matched, and then we had one particular driver dominating, it wouldn’t hurt the sport. But if it’s a piece of machinery dominating, then that spells problems due to the inherent nature of sport.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 64 comments on “Manor ‘to announce Wehrlein soon’”

    1. A F1 seat is a F1 seat. Looks like Mercedes had the bargaining power to give their guy some experience. Maybe a free engine from Mercedes? Good for him. Now we can see what he can actually do. I hope he shines against his team mate.

      1. Good to see them start to use their weight with regards to the driver market.

        Another step towards the benchmark red bull has set.

        Now it’s Ferrari and MACs turn.

        1. Just McLaren, actually, since Ferrari have placed both Bianchi and Gutierrez in race seats.

          1. And Felipe Massa…

            1. And Sergio Perez! People always seem to forget him!

          2. @omegadetra I’m also pretty sure McLaren gave Kevin Magnussen a seat in 2014…

            1. And some guy called Lewis Hamilton a few years back.

            2. I thought we were only talking about teams putting their young drivers into smaller teams. Of course if we wanted to bring up young driver programs feeding drivers directly into the parent team, we have the entire Red Bull program to comb through…

        2. i’m not sure i like this idea of bigger teams/manufacturers been able to push there drivers into smaller teams because there are a lot of very, very good drivers who deserve an f1 shot that don’t have this backing & in the future may end up with no chance of making it to f1 instead of those in these kinds of young driver programs.

          i also recall manor saying last year that the contract they had with mercedes didn’t require them to take a mercedes driver, guess that was untrue.

          1. I like it, as it gives drivers a clearer path to get into F1. And the way I see it, if you can fight for a spot on a young driver program, you must have some level of talent or potential.

            Also, just because Manor is reported to take on Wehrlein as a driver doesn’t mean it was a requirement by Mercedes to do so. The whole thing about correlation and causation, you know.

          2. RogerA, it is probably the case that Manor didn’t have to take one of Mercedes’s favoured drivers, but Mercedes might well have chosen to offer Manor a favourable deal that made it attractive to hire him.

            @omegadetra, I wouldn’t necessarily say that manufacturers always pick the best talents – for example, Toyota placed Nakajima at Williams, but most figures would say that his performance was pretty lacklustre.

            1. Most figures would also say Toyota’s performance as an F1 program was also pretty miserable.

          3. Drivers already have no chance at all unless they are backed by either a lot of corporate sponsorship, or (sometimes) by race team driver development squads. The increased cost of driving in the junior series means that anyone else gets winnowed out at a pretty low level. As questionable as some driver development selection schemes have been, they have had a rather better strike rate than the corporates, since a typical driver scheme will be looking for at least one true F1-level talent at a given time (corporate sponsors may not need that, since it’s usually enough for their chosen driver to be on the grid for money-based reasons, and sometimes it’s enough simply to have the PR associated with making the attempt).

          4. Very very good drivers often would/should get backing of the proper company, so your point is essentially moot.

            1. @beejis60 That hasn’t been the case for quite some time, sadly.

          5. I disagree. If a team like Manor were to choose their own drivers, chances are they would pick a pay driver. However, a driver backed by a large team like Mercedes is more likely to be there on based on talent, and not by how much money they bring in.

            1. How’s he different from a pay driver?

    2. Hulk’s helmet – well it’s…distinctive.

      1. @george Looks just like Checo’s.. Why do it? I guess SFI is undergoing a major livery change. As in grosjean’s case I think this helmet will reflect a major colour of the team.

        1. Not only that, he’s going to have to wear it upside down so that his NEC is in the correct position.

          1. *groan*
            Its waaaayyy too early in the morning for a joke that bad!!! Also i was two or three comments further down before i even got it!!!

            1. ColdFly F1 (@)
              10th February 2016, 5:47

              Took me 1min and 3sec.
              Now let’s get on with life.

          2. ColdFly F1 (@)
            10th February 2016, 5:52

            I’ll wow Maccas fans on Instagram!

            1. ColdFly F1 (@)
              10th February 2016, 6:52


          3. I salute you…

          4. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
            10th February 2016, 11:12

            I like it :)

    3. i know that mercedes like to push Pascal Wehrlein as been a star of the future but to be honest i’ve been less impressed with him.

      while he has had success in the dtm & won a dtm championship…. that was one of the things people mentioned with regards to paul di resta when he moved to f1 and he hardly set the f1 world alight.
      he also barely won the dtm title with only 2 wins & a lot of help from team orders, especially in the final races where every mercedes driver (even from different teams to his own) were jumping out of the way & not racing him…. he was unable to win based on his own talent & speed & was constantly receiving help from his fellow mercedes drivers. Jamie Green was consistently faster but had a lot of bad luck.

      it was the same with paul di resta in 2010, he got a lot of help from fellow mercedes drivers (because he was the chosen one among the merc crew) & wasn’t the fastest or most consistent driver & like pascal he likely would not have won the title without the constant meddling from mercedes bosses.

      that is a big issue in the dtm to be honest, the mercedes/audi & bmw bosses have far too much power & while you have individual teams each running 2 cars, in reality you only have 3 teams because the bosses of the manufacturer’s dictate orders & each have there chosen driver so they are basically deciding the winners 95% of the time.

      1. I don’t think he deserved the title either. He simply grabbed it because the Audi drivers were too competitive. Had Audi gambled on either Green or Ekstrom and did the same as Mercedes they would have been champion.

        while you have individual teams each running 2 cars, in reality you only have 3 teams because the bosses of the manufacturer’s dictate orders & each have there chosen driver so they are basically deciding the winners 95% of the time.

        While I like the ‘three big teams’ being the manufacturers I don’t like the constant simply moving out of the way in the sport that indeed happens to often.

      2. I think apart from being talented (which he is, undeniably) Mercedes like him for his commercial potential. He’s not only German but he’s ethnically diverse. This may sound crass, but research has shown that by far the most marketable athletes are those with either mixed or differing racial backgrounds. This may well play in the back of their minds.

    4. I disagree with the COTD. To me there really is not that much difference in whether its the athlete, the teamwork, their equipment or a whatever combination of factors that gets dominant. The dominance is fine if it is based on sporting excelence (and not overly supported by the rule making/stewarding AND money side like we saw with Ferrari in the early 2000s).

      Currently in F1 Mercedes is the top dog, but Ferrari does have it in its own hands to catch up, Honda/McLaren as well, and they are set on trying etc. Its not as if everything works against trying to catch up or beat them.

      But for Red Bull it will probably mean they will have to rethink their “aero MUST be king” philosophy, because there just is more to gain from mechanical/electrical development for the next couple of years. That is also what might lure in new automotive companies to learn about technology with lessons that can have an effect on their road cars, apart from making the marketing work.

      1. @bascb The COTD rightly points out that F1 is perceived differently than tennis.

        However, as I said yesterday, it is not as simple as that. There is a big “machinery” behind every great athlete, it is just a different kind of machinery. The ability of a tennis player or a diver is only one part of a much bigger puzzle. It is not always just about money either, even a new coach can make the difference between zero and hero.

        Also, one should note that F1 has never been different and yet we are all still here and the technological dominance has not ended F1 forever.

      2. @bascb

        If engineering excellence = sporting excellence to you, then I guess you can’t agree. But we are talking about the masses here, or the average sports viewer that Todt was addressing when he mentioned sports like Tennis or soccer. Unfortunately, I would have to say that the larger mass of sports viewers will not perceive it as you do.

        1. I think you greatly undersell the masses of fans F1 has if you think that the car itself being a great feat is missed on the majority of fans @todfod. Technology is part of motorsport as much as the drivers are.

          1. Well I think it’s quite hard to compare Tennis to… Formula 1. Why not compare Tennis with… Badminton? Also there’s a lot of technology that goes in the rachet, which the people watching do not see. Formula 1 should be compared with let’s see: WTCC, Le Mans, DTM and the list goes on. Or compare F1 with fighter jets, same thing. Both are about speed, with different limitations + a lot of technology to pust the limits + drivers & pilots. But both serve the same idea: Men And Machine – Power Xtreme! (From The Centurions :P).

            1. Tennis was not my choice, it was picked in the discussion we built on here.

              I think the comparison with sports like sailing, bobsleigh/luge etc. is pretty apt. Horse racing (and the various forms of horse riding) is quite comparable as well. And we might put Cycling under motorracing nowadays :-o @neogalaxy.

              But really when you look at the amount of research, development and investment that goes into speed skating and swimming in the top countries as well as cycling, those are quite certainly a team effort as much as F1.

        2. @todfod @bascb I think getting away from the conventional sporting model of human v. human, and instead one that rewards an entire team for a range of skills that consist of aerodynamics, marketing, software engineering, simulation and, of course, driving ridiculously quickly, is a more complete human challenge. The unconventional nature of the sporting challenge in F1, and in motorsport more broadly, is for me one of the cornerstones of its appeal.

          Of course the driver is the most marketable icon of the sporting competition, so naturally, audiences want to see their efforts rewarded. It is the job of the best drivers in the world to a) win some how and against the odds, and b) put themselves in the best position to win, i.e. with the best team/car. Motorsport is very good at ensuring the best get the results they deserve, and fulfilling the potential of those who mark themselves out from others.

          Of course, there are those drivers who do not fulfill their potential: Robin Frijns is the most archetypal example. However as a driver who turned down Helmut Marko, it is difficult to be too sympathetic. Equally as a driver who turned down a Newey-fronted Red Bull team in 2008 when DC retired, it cannot be said motorsport didn’t give Alonso the chance of further world titles. Yes, some, like Magnussen had for some months appeared to have been, can be denied by political forces, but equally you could say the log-jam effect of great, deserving drivers has an effect.

          In sum – motorsport is a race to fulfill your potential as a driver, and it is no coincidence that the best drivers find themselves in the best cars. It’s like Game of Thrones just with wheels…

          1. Fully agree with you on the complex team view of the effort @william-brierty, well said

      3. For the majority of people, it’s easier to connect with people than objects. As such, a sporting series where people obviously matter a lot is going to be more attractive at a mass level than one where technology obviously matters more. A great car will be appreciated for its quality, but that is not automatically the same as being attracted to it for someone who’s primed to be attracted to drivers. It is part of the reason why 80% of fans surveyed in the GPDA quiz last year didn’t support any team (as distinct from a bit above 70% who didn’t support any driver). For decades, F1 was good at balancing these, demanding the utmost of both people and technology. Even when the technology started to get consistently and obviously clipped on safety grounds, it didn’t have a huge effect because people were still being pushed to their utmost.

        However, any year where teams have, or been widely perceived to have, played with the driver positions immediately undermines claims that people are being pushed to their utmost. If people are being pushed to the utmost, then it shouldn’t even be possible to play with the results. We have now had 5 years in a row where this situation has occurred (and no, the identity of the team doing/perceived to do the playing doesn’t make a difference). Had Mercedes been able to maintain the “race each other hard but don’t crash” attitude it held until Spa 2014, things would have been a bit different, but Hamilton and Rosberg colliding put paid to that, and so they did the natural, but non-fan-friendly, thing of restricting the terms on which they could duel.

        The thing that’s undermined it most is that it is perceived that the racing is easier from a physical and, in some respects (but emphatically not others) mental perspective. Smaller engines and easier-to-handle cars, alongside tyres that have to be driven below their limits rather than below the driver/car combination’s limits, inevitably mean nearly all drivers are forced to drive well below their ability for much of the time. Overtaking and (especially) defending skill no longer being rewarded over push-to-pass (and occasionally push-to-defend) and guessing whether some particular breach of the regulations will be penalised or not (every race last season saw multiple changes of position with non-penalised complete crossings of the white line – the penalties that are issued for this only scratch the surface). Strategy being determined primarily by tyres. Can any currently-popular sport create such a large list of changes in the last 8 years to have reduced the athete’s input into their success?

        1. @alianora-la-canta, As one of those not supporting a team I’d like to make it clear that I support all teams to some degree ( fully, unless they misbehave) , applaud their efforts, hope they can make a breakthrough and demand their efforts be more fairly rewarded financially, after all it is they that make the show.

      4. @bascb You forget that only once the token system is gone Ferrari and Renault can really catch up. Otherwise the advantage Mercedes has will always be protected by the rules. By doing so we at the same time allow the bigger teams to spend more and this effectively means a bigger difference between the mid-field teams and those at the front, let alone Manor.

        1. Not really @xtwl. Let’s not forget that the FIA already re-opened up previously determined “black boxes” that would not be allowed to be worked on in the original plans for this winter, exactly with the target to help especially Honda and Renault but off course Ferrari too to have a better chance at catching up.

          With the problems Honda had last year, they can easily make a jump like Ferrari did last year by eliminating things that they knew were not working by april last year and can find a lot more to not have to be the laughing stock of everyone and be at least in the mix. Getting further will be tougher, but they are more limited by their own ideas and approach then by the limits of development.

          1. I kind of agree with @bascb, F1 has always been as much about machinery than driver sometimes the balance goes one way or another depending on rules changes and teams finding something special. If you are an F1 fan, you have to admire when a team gets it all right as Mercedes did with new engine at the point where rule need to be change (get rid of tokens) to allow fellow competitors a chance. It can’t last as it is, but it is part of F1.

            As was the introduction of blown diffuser which also created a huge advantage, however it was ‘easier’ to copy and to level the field to this is part of F1 evolution, always pushing hard on the engineering part of things. You can compare it to cycling, someone could have an advantage due to his machinery (elliptical gears) and help him win even if the difference is not as important as the one Mercedes has for the moment, but it only shows and reflects the tremendous work they did and they should be rewarded for that with WCC.

            For the beauty of races, more contenders would indeed be preferable and I’m sure it will happen in the next few years. In the meantime, I’m glad F1 is not a spec serie and is continuing to reward great developments.

            The competition showing the best comparison to that at the moment is america cup. A lot is made through boat development, then sailors play a big role in handling the boat, choosing tactics and at the end of the day they win partly because of their abilities and partly because they have a great boat giving them an advantage. Last edition was a great example showing a great come back (even if I would have personally prefer New Zealand to win) because team USA put the necessary effort to catch back and finally win which pushed the sport forward and made it even more impressive and deserved.

      5. This is part of what I dislike about simplistic views on F1.

        The reason the Merc is so good is because the team did a good job. The team is made up of people. Just because you don’t see them all the time (and, for many of them, at all), doesn’t mean they do not exist.

        As an engineer with limited physical prowess, the fact that these intelligent people are instrumental to the success of a sports team is one of the great attractions of F1.

        Focussing only on the driver would be like focussing only on the striker in football. Yes, he may be the star, but without the rest of the team he will not win.

        For me, I’d suggest the way to hammer this home would be to get more engineers into the limelight in F1. Everyone focusses on the drivers, principals, and maybe the odd technical team member, but with more of the engineers in the public eye maybe the masses would get behind them.

        1. That’s the comment of the day right there.

    5. Thanks for the COTD @keithcollantine !

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        10th February 2016, 8:37

        Congratulations @todfod, excellent comparison to tennis.

        It makes me check this argument a bit further.
        As we know even in tennis it is not just the player’s skills when we talk for instance Davis Cup (Serbia hasn’t won since 2010). But fans don’t mind I guess because there are many other tournaments where the best players can ‘compare’ their skills.
        In football it’s even a bit stronger. Fans appreciate more the team effort (e.g. World Cup). But in football all players can play for 2 teams (country and local team) and it is easier for an average fan to notice who’s the best player (at least for strikers).

        Either we just accept as true fans that F1 is much more complicated and is truely seeking the best team/drivers combination to be crowned (WCC) and that WDC sometimes does not mean more than beating your teammate.
        Or we get really creative in F1 and copy football. We could create a 2nd drivers championship (same tracks/weekend) where all drivers race using the same machinery. The winner there can really call him/herself WDC.

    6. Just a thought reading that article about Palmer at Enstone with the Renault colours and mention of Brexit. What consequences would that Brexit have for the F1 teams in regards to hiring people as well as getting to the european tracks (or working with the Cologne facilities for example)?

      I can well imagine that it will throw up some hurdles

      1. @bascb It is a good question but maybe not too much will change in case of Brexit. I imagine that the UK will definitely not want to isolate itself, lose jobs or harm its economy so the government will be forced to find ways to keep banks, other companies and even F1 teams from leaving. It will probably present some legal challenges but I think the world will still be pretty much the same after Brexit, at least for the “big guys”.

        1. yeah, but will the EU countries be willing to grant the UK favorable conditions is what I am not too sure about @girts.

          1. I’d expect so. In or out of the EU, the UK is a hugely important partner in a number of areas, as many EU countries (Germany and France especially) are to the UK. Even if the UK left the EU, the two would still ‘need’ each other and would retain a close and mutually beneficial relationship.

            Sauber (outside EU), Haas (half and half) and Honda’s engine department get by without any issues.

            1. LOL @neilosjames. I think many in the UK overestimate the importance of the UK for the EU. The market is not that big really. The UK would most likely find it needs the EU far more than the other way round.

              Many production sites will probably move over to the continent with that move and also don’t underestimate the sour taste you guys “going it alone” will bring between all the politicians who will then have to unanimously agree to such conditions (if indeed some won’t have referenda over them).

              I can even see a push from the likes of Renault and Mercedes to move activities back over to here, because it might be harder to employ EU citizens in the UK!

    7. +100 Agree with COTD

    8. Wehrlein is no Ocon, Frijns or Vandoorne but he’s very good, and I welcome someone getting into F1 on talent and merit rather than money (albeit supported by Mercedes, but then again, who doesn’t need support to get into F1 these days?)

    9. Have to say Hulkenburg’s new lid is awful. I really liked his old one, it was a simple, distinctive, clever and (crucially) unfussy design.

    10. Unfortunately Wehrlein’s announcement almost certainly means we will see Ocon in DTM rather than GP2. Despite di Resta and now Wehrlein, as a strategy, I just don’t think it works.

      1. Ocon was “released” by Mercedes to be the reserve driver for Renault. It was announced at the Renault launch in Paris.

        1. @ijw1 He remains Mercedes affiliated, they have just “loaned” him to Renault so he can get mileage, possible FP1 sessions, and familiarize himself with the procedures of an F1 team. He is essentially getting “the Palmer experience”, just with (probably) less mileage and a probable dovetailed DTM campaign.

          1. Better the “Palmer experience” than the “Jorda experience”…

      2. I was going to point that out but @ijw1 already stated it.
        @william-brierty, I guess you missed or forgot that Ocon is Renault’s reserve driver for this year.
        However, Vasseur did state that he will also do “further programmes with Mercedes” as well but being reserve driver he should be present at the GPs, so I guess he cannot race on other series if there are scheduling conflicts…

    11. Fudge Ahmed (@)
      10th February 2016, 12:11

      While I agree with the sentiment of the COTD, Tennis is a terrible point of comparison. Another team sport such as football would draw a closer comparison. We forget that F1 internally places much greater on the constructors or team championship, the WDC is, to them, almost a marketing exercise i’d hazard?

      1. The reality is that Tennis is just as much a team sport as F1 – it’s just that you only see the “front man” on court. Behind the scenes, for every top-flight player there is surely a small army of coaches, physios, trainers, tacticians, SWOT analysts, and racquet technicians, and that’s before you consider the factories that design and produce the shoes, the racquets and the shirts to the precise liking of that player. Just because you don’t see “the team”, don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

      2. @offdutyrockstar

        Tennis was taken as an example because Jean Todt compared F1 to it when talking about dominance. That is exactly why the whole debate began about comparing different types of domination in sport, and how domination in F1 is completely different and not comparable to other sports.

    12. A good performance with manor will increase his chance to team up with a 4 time world champion Lewis hamilton at will be a big turning point for his career that he can learn from Lewis and become a wc material in future.

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