Manor confirms Wehrlein’s seat for 2016

2016 F1 season

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Wehrlein’s last single-seater race was in March 2013
Pascal Wehrlein will occupy one of Manor’s two race seats for 2016, the team has confirmed.

The Mercedes-backed 21-year-old hasn’t raced a single-seater since 2013. Wehrlein has spent the last three years racing in the DTM championship, which he won last year.

However he has tested Mercedes’ F1 car extensively in the simulator, leading to his appointment as reserve driver in 2014. Manor is using Mercedes power units for the first time this season.

“Though it’s my first F1 season my aim is to help Stephen [Fitzpatrick] and the guys achieve their goals,” said Wehrlein. “It will be a tough challenge but I think we should be able to challenge for points along the way.”

Wehrlein has 16 FIA F1 superlicence points. That leaves him short of the 40 required to qualify a licence, however the FIA has relaxed its rules allowing drivers who previously obtained a superlicence to hold one this year. In 2014 Wehrlein covered over 500km in a 2012-specification Mercedes F1 car, which was enough to earn a superlicence at the time.

Manor owner Stephen Fitzpatrick described Wehrlein as a “sharp driver with a very promising future”.

“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.”

Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi and Alexander Rossi raced for Manor in 2015, but GP2 driver Rio Haryanto has been linked with the other place in the team’s line-up.

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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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65 comments on “Manor confirms Wehrlein’s seat for 2016”

  1. I would have liked to have seen him race in another single seater category first as I have only seen him in DTM, but I suppose there are far worse drivers they could stick in that seat, and almost certainly Manor get the coveted Mercedes power unit on the cheap. I’m interested to see what he can do.

  2. I wonder if we could see Vandoorne in the other Manor seat. It’s highly unlikely, but why then has he not announced his Super Formula campaign that looked a foregone conclusion two months ago? I know McLaren refused when Renault inquired whether they could run him; could it be that they are putting together a budget for Manor? They are certainly not a team shy when it comes to spending money on drivers…

    1. Vandoorne is probably being kept by McLaren in case they have a terrible pre season test period and Alonso quits. If they let him go and Magnussen and Alonso quits during preseason they would look very silly without a decent driver to fill the void having had 2 promising drivers on their books?

      1. Whats it got to do with Kevin? Hes has nothing to do with Mclaren anymore and has a race seat…

        1. I think he meant that Magnussen has already left, and on top of that if they let Vandoorne go they wouldn’t have a decent driver in the mostly unlikely situation of Alonso quitting.

      2. Magnussen

        That ship has long since sailed

      3. in case

        That’s easily covered in a contract!

      4. Albeit bearing in mind Magnussen no longer has any association with McLaren, you might be right – McLaren cannot anticipate the reaction from Alonso if he struggles to get out of Q1 come Melbourne. Alonso is an immensely marketable commodity and would be snatched by an Audi team looking for a new team leader for the #8 crew. McLaren need a reserve, so why hasn’t Vandoorne announced his 2016 plans?

        1. And wouldn’t Porsche be interested too?

      5. I worded my comment wrong I know Magnussen went a while back so if Vandoorne also went and they need a new driver should Alonso quit they would have let 2 drivers through their grasp whereas as things stand Vandoorne has no contract to race anywhere in 2016 and is still available if they need him

  3. It is a good choice. F1 probably lacks drivers that have previously been successful in tin-top series as nothing suggests that they are destined to fail. Paul di Resta was very solid and Wehrlein will hopefully have a longer and more successful career here. Can he impress Mercedes enough in 2016 to take Rosberg’s seat already in 2017?

    1. @girts probably take PER seat at FI if PER leaves and ROS stays.

      1. Except Perez is rocking it over at SFI.

  4. Great to see him graduating to F1. It’s pretty much impossible to rate people driving in DTM because of all the stuff that happens behind the scenes, but his F3 campaign was pretty impressive. Furthermore, because he’s so young he could be he perfect poster boy for Mercedes to boost their image, so if he can do a solid season with Manor I wouldn’t be surprised to see him driving for the works team as soon as 2017.

  5. DTM had driver-selected numbers last year so I wonder if he will take 94 again.

  6. He looked promising in F3 and I’m glad to see the DTM wasn’t a cul-de-sac for him in terms of getting into F1. Whether it’s served him well as an education in racing we’ll have to wait and see. Not many people have taken that route to F1: Paul di Resta and Christijan Albers being among the exceptions.

    1. Karim Eloukbani
      10th February 2016, 11:51

      Also Giancarlo Fisichella and Jan Magnussen.

      1. Karim, you’re not quite correct about Fisichella – Fisichella was employed by Minardi as a test driver in 1995 after winning the 1994 Italian Formula 3 title.

        He did compete for Alfa Romeo in the 1995 DTM championship, but that was alongside his role as a test driver – it was something he did to keep himself “race ready”, but it did not contribute towards him being awarded a race seat by Minardi in 1996.

    2. Webber and Fisichella were in DTM pre F1 and another rather decent single seater driver in Franchitti as well?

      1. Webber drove for Mercedes in FIA GT in the late 90s. He drove Le Mans for them as well, which damaged his relationship with Mercedes quite badly because at first they didn’t believe him when he said he flipped over. Of course he did make it to F1, but that wasn’t because of Mercedes’ help.

        I think it’s good Mercedes is finally using it’s ‘power’ to get one of their junior drivers a chance. Although Wehrlein never impressed me all that much. I seem to recall a DTM race at the Nurburgring in which the team made a small mistake at the pitstop and he wouldn’t stop whining about it on the radio for the next few laps. Mistakes happen, get on with the job and do the talking on the track. In that sense he might be a good replacement for Mercedes’ other crybaby Rosberg in the future.

      2. Found it:

        Five (!) minutes later they still need to cool him down and tell him to focus on the race ahead. I’m sorry but that doesn’t sound like a driver that’s ready for F1 to me.

        1. Wow, what a hard audience. For a few minutes in one race in a whole season in a championship he won he is not considered worthy of a chance in F1 because he had a small hissy fit. DTM is a high level championship which he won and did he win in F3 before that, I think he at least deserves a chance, looking at what drivers have achieved in lesser championships and their records in F1 since Button, Raikkonnen and Verstappen come across as being less successful pre F1 and they have done alright.

          1. Oh it’s not only this, it’s also the way he won the championship (which has been described in other comments). Obviously that’s not his fault, but still, it doesn’t show us completely what he is made of. However, I think these few minutes show his true nature.

            Besides that, Verstappen didn’t win F3 but owed his chance in F1 to outstanding standalone performances like a rain race at the Norisring in which he lapped 2 seconds faster than the others. As far as I know, Wehrlein didn’t have this kind of things. But if so, I stand corrected.

        2. Hmmm, that is a bit unattractive @joshdejager. Sounds like his engineer is used to it, too! Still, he’s young and at least he’s motivated. And I can only suppose he looks special in the simulator.

        3. Wehrlein may have what it takes, otherwise Mercedes wouldn’t be spending heaps of cash on him. But it still beats me why they’ve not approached someone like Nico Hulkenberg – a driver who’s had talent written all over him. Prior to his Mercedes test outings I’d never even heard of Wehrlein…

          But Mercedes obviously observed his career and talent on a deeper level.

    3. @keithcollantine

      not many have taken that route to F1

      …despite it being Mercedes’ preferred strategy. Cynics might note that Mercedes are sacrificing the quality of the learning experience to ensure brand affiliation, but it produced a credible talent in Paul di Resta, and will hopefully do the same for Esteban Ocon who will be announced as Wehrlein’s replacement imminently.

      That said, as with Red Bull’s GP3/FR3.5 strategy, this was an approach that was meant to die out with the super license system. Nice to see, with the announcement of F1’s first officially “unworthy” driver, that teams are remaining stoic against the FIA’s spiteful attempts at monopolisation.

  7. YES! One small step for Man’r one giant leap for Formulakind.

    There were a few guys deserving a seat and he is amongst top 5.

    Now we just need Alonso to mount a sabatical Le Mans season and give Stoffel a seat.

    But still a win, We need excellent drivers in F1, even with dominant team ensuring predictable results. Exciting drivers make every race a joy to watch and observe masters at work.

    Does he have enough FIA points?

    1. He does not have the points.. Lol. Well there you go. FiA points are pointless.

    2. According to the table here, he only has 16 points.
      So now I really don’t understand; have the points rules changed? Or does Mercedes just have enough clout to force the FIA’s hands?
      I’ve nothing against the lad, he’s done well in F3 and DTM and seems very pleasant. It’s the Superlicence points that I don’t understand

      1. @nickwyatt He qualifies because he has done a substantial distance in an old car, which under the previous regulations would grant him the superlicence. The FIA has become lenient allowing for those who qualified fairly recently to still be allowed to race. I don’t know the precise details though.

      2. @nickwyatt It says in the article above.

        1. What exactly is then the point of FIA Superliscence points?

          1. @jureo The point is that from now on(or at least from the very near future) this Werhlein trick of “previously legal” points won’t work. There simply won’t be any drivers with previously valid Superlicenses left. Then the DTM drivers will really be screwed

          2. The points provide a baseline for the FIA to decide if someone has done enough to be worthy of a F1 drive. There are several loopholes (including the “current Formula E champion but not former ones” one that was even in the original version) that are considered equivalent proofs. One of which is that Pascal has held a F1 superlicence in the previous 3 years. Apart from Pascal, this also helps drivers who get into F1 but can’t get a full-time ride (perhaps because of serially bad luck with team choice or injuries).

            This is important because drivers who want to be considered for the “exceptional recent single-seater record” route in need to show they are equivalent to the sort of drivers who get in via the other routes. Pascal and similar non-points-based entrants will be setting that standard and perhaps having more influence on the future than they realise.

          3. @alianora-la-canta: just to clarify: this is the _only_ loophole currently in the regulations. There is no other way to obtain a super licence while not having amassed 40 points, let alone several.

            But I can imagine that in the future, whenever a driver would want to get a super licence that didn’t hold one before, the regulations will be adapted again.

          4. @MattDS Full list of current loopholes:

            – Be the current Formula E champion (it’s not allotted points, so being a former Formula E champion contributes nothing, but being current Formula E champion is considered full exemption)

            – Hold an expired super licence. If it’s more than 3 years old, recent outstanding single-seater skill must be demonstrated.

            – In the opinion of the F1 Commission, have a “recent, outstanding” record in single-seater racing.

            Note that any or all of these loopholes may be rescinded or expanded at any time.

          5. @alianora-la-canta by that last one, I think you’re solely referring to the “free practice only super licence”. I have Appendix L in front of me right now (version of 17/18 december depending on the document’s title or the site’s description :) ) and I can’t find such a rule as satisfactory (without amassing the points or without having an expired super licence) under section 5.1.

            You’re right about the F-E champion though, although I don’t understand why they don’t just give points to the F-E championship as well.

          6. The Free Practise Only one, according to the copy of Appendix L in front of me (and it’s 17th December 2015, presumably making it the same version as @mattds ‘s) has those exceptions under 5.1.7 (clauses d), b) and c) respectively). The latter is presumably to prevent a situation where a driver can get a Free Practise Only licence but then cannot substitute for a driver at need. Quite why the world needs a Free Practise Only superlicence is a mystery, but apparently the FIA thinks we do…

          7. @alianora-la-canta like I said, the third “loophole” you stated doesn’t exist as a standalone requirement through which they can obtain a super licence. It only comes into play in case the driver had a super licence more than 3 seasons ago, and you already put that in your second “loophole”.

            So two remain.

            By the way, I used “loophole” with quotation marks as these aren’t really loopholes – loopholes are holes in the regulations that allow those interpreting it to interpret in a way that wasn’t really intended – these, though, are clear and proper rules and meant to be used like this.

        2. I suspect that Mercedes have perhaps short tracked his development because of the new superlicense system. Manor is a good intro to F1, its not like there will be the pressure of competing for serious points, so its not like they’ve dropped him in the deep end. Good move by Mercedes given the circumstances in my book. But an exception to the super-license rules, and probably the only one .

  8. I’ve watched all three of his seasons in DTM, he is an excellent driver, though the DTM is hard to judge. The whole grid is generally within 1.5 seconds, meaning championships are won on consistency over sheer mass of wins. He’s extremely calm behind the wheel, lending itself to this consistency. Last year he was by far the highest placed Mercedes driver, second highest, interestingly, was Paul di Resta.

    1. @jmc200 I agree he has a very relaxed driving style – not unlike Paul di Resta’s approach. You could argue that a heavier tin-top chassis is conducive to a more progressive driving style, albeit Frijns’ famously savage driving style didn’t exactly harm him in the R8 GT3 last year.

  9. Congrats to him and Manor, always nice to see a driver get a seat that doesn’t immediately cause outrage. Of course there can always be the argument that there was a better choice, but he seems like a solid driver and was certainly one of the top prospects.

    Now, c’mon Rossi get that other seat!

    – biased American

  10. 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 & unlike the mercedes teams audi didn’t put all there egg’s in 1 basket.

    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 mercedes 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. also the video linked in a post above reminded me that there were several races through the year where something didn’t go his way & he did nothing but whine over the radio, blaming the team, other drivers & often insisting that mercedes get the car ahead out of the way because he isn’t a good enough racer to try & overtake it himself.

      there are drivers in gp3, gp2 & the renault series who are far more deserving but just don’t have the backing from an existing f1 team/manufacturer to force them onto a backmarker team like manor.

  11. i don’t know what to think of this signing. as has been said before, he doesn’t have enough superlicense points, so all purposes of the point system have been defeated, which is a terrible thing to me. however wehrlein has been doing a lot of testing. in the end i’m okay with this signing, not overly excited, but it could’ve been worse.

    now for that second manor seat… i’ll be furious and disappointed if they sign haryanto. it may be debatable if wehrlein deserves an f1 seat, but it’s not in haryantos case. he doesn’t deserve it. not when rossi is going for the same seat.

    1. I think Wehrlein already had a Superlicence as he did more than 500 km driving/testing F1 cars last year. Maybe this is why he tested for both Mercedes AND Force India?
      As for the second Manor seat, sorry Will (being a fellow Brit myself), but I think it should go to Rossi. Maybe Stevens could be the reserve driver.

      1. Pascal tested for Force India as well as Mercedes because none of Force India’s development drivers at the time were ready for serious testing (as opposed to acclimatisation). Pascal, on the other hand, was.

  12. Really pleased about this. Another good talent that gets a chance. We know how well a proper racing driver can do even in a team with limited budget: Jules Bianchi proved it.

    I’m also liking the prospects of Manor being a sort of Mercedes B-team. i suppose Mercedes maybe saw what Ferrari has been doing with Haas and wondered: “hey, that’s something we could do aswell”. They inquired FIA about Ferrari’s involvement with Haas (just to be clear, in their words) so maybe something came out of that and we’re seeing the results.

  13. I wonder who is going to be Mercedes reserve driver now? Di Resta prehaps?

    1. Good question, probably Wehrliem.

      1. @jureo @ijw1 Per Autosport, Wehrlein will remain Merc reserve driver, unless the problem is at the last moment, with no time for Manor to find a replacement.

  14. For this season there’s a couple guys that have been left out of f1 again. I actually like Wehrlein, it’s a bonus that Merc is actually embracing the good people that worked for Manor. I don’t know who got rid of the people that were just in for the joy ride, but I wouldn’t care they’ll do it for the other seat.

  15. Good. Another driver who’s there on merit and not because of his daddy’s deep pockets. Now we just need Manor to put( at least!) Rossi in the second seat, and I’ll be relatively happy with the pay driver situation in F1

    1. @montreal95 More like Mercedes their deep pockets because let’s be honest he isn’t the best available at all.

      1. @xtwl Is PW’s father a board member at Merc? Or do they pay for his seat because of his pretty eyes?

        Of course he’s not the best available. That’s probably Vandoorne. Maybe there are some few others. Fact is, he’s been impressive enough in Merc’s eyes to convince them of his talent, best or no. He’s done more than enough to be worthy of his chance. So, it’s a meritocracy. Not a perfect meritocracy, true, but that never happens in any real life endeavor anyway. Much better than Haryantos or Stevenses getting their chances purely because of their money

        1. @montreal95 I agree, he deserves a chance but I’m not expecting much of it. Partly because he’s at Manor and what can you even prove there. It would be fun to have Rossi alongside him to see how a GP2 man would fare against our DTM champion.

          1. @xtwl Well same as all these drivers debuting in a Minardi back in the day, you can progress from there if you show yourself worthy. Nobody’s expecting PW to be at the front in the Manor. But if he’s perceived to be maximizing his machinery that may be enough(or not, there are plenty of examples of drivers excelling in weak cars and never getting an opportunity to drive a strong one)

            Wehrlein vs Rossi DTM vs GP2 can be very good I agree. Unfortunately Vandoorne’s not gonna be there cause that would’ve been the real dream lineup for a small team. Better than most Toro Rosso lineups even

  16. Wait a minute – we had a “[Something] to be announced soon” that gets announced the very same day? That’s rather quick in the world of prediction fulfillment. Well done, Bild!

  17. Can someone tell me that story about the Manor driver that went on to win races?

    1. In a not-so-different version of the universe, I probably could :(

  18. I wonder if his hair cut will change in the F1 image-conscious environment? I’m thinking a little less boofy on top and less like a teenager with an attitude.

    1. @Mog I’m sure someone will happily be paid a lot of money to suggest exactly what angle of trim conveys the optimum synthesis of professionalism and youthful verve…

  19. On the upside – He seems consistent.

    On the downside – He doesn’t seem particularly fast. If he’s a future star in F1 he’s done little to suggest it so far.

  20. The first thing this guy needs to do is to fix his haircut.

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