All signs point to Bahrain return for Wehrlein, says Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes’ Toto Wolff expects his junior driver Pascal Wehrlein will return to Sauber at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

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An interesting theory on how this year’s cars may have affected overtaking by @Kazinho.

Curious thing about the overtaking at turn six rather than turn 14 is that we may see more overtaking in future races based on the shape of the tight corners, not on DRS placement.

Because of the much shorter braking distances with 2017 cars, the only way to make a move and have it stick is the have a tight corner where the driver can move the braking into and maybe even past the apex of the corner (turn six).

Corners where drivers have to do all of their braking before turning (turn 14) in will provide no result as there is only one braking line and cars are not able to pull up beside one another after DRS.

The type of corners I am thinking of as being beneficial to overtaking are turn ten hairpin in Canada, turn one at Hungary and first and last corners at Sepang.

Even this weekend, I expect more moves into turn four rather than four one in Bahrain.

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71 comments on “All signs point to Bahrain return for Wehrlein, says Wolff”

  1. It’s too soon to tell if attendance figures and viewing figures will really be increased from these changes. There’s been a lot of hype about this season and many people will have been interested to see what it’s like as a result.

    Getting attention is important, but keeping attention is arguably more so

  2. I’d guess Sauber will be wanting to get Pascal back in the car as soon as possible now, crashing in qualifying and the race was quite the come down for Giovinazzi after his performance in Australia, and if he did damage the chassis, that’s a pretty big bill for a team like Sauber.
    The team could have protected Giovinazzi better by telling him to stay out on the inters a bit longer, and much more experienced drivers than him have made equally costly errors in those conditions in the past, but it never looks good when you crash out of both qualifying and the race.

    1. Although….those two rookie incidents by Giovinazzi took the crashlight off of Stroll, so Williams must be pumped about that. Other than the fact Stroll crashed out of the race. Not entirely his fault it could be argued.

      1. Don’t forget it was only their second weekend (also for Stroll).

        Last year a guy crashed 3 times (P, Q, R) in the second weekend with his team :p

        1. Having Won the first may have helped however

        2. Also being highly competitive when he crashed might have helped.

    2. That’s a great point. Slicks were a big ask, the team didn’t do him any favors.

    3. This was his chance and went away from him. I think Pascal is back next race.

    4. Olivier Prevot
      11th April 2017, 13:58

      Since Giovinazzi is a Ferrari protegee, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Scuderia had to foot the bill for his little escapades into the walls.

  3. I want to see more of GIO but it’s okay. His mistake on the race and that excuse is disappointing, he clearly had some lock on that straight just like Pascal last year on Q1, it’s his mistake take it in the chin.

  4. Horner is right.
    Vettel should have been punished IMO.

    1. So too Ricciardo at Suzuka last year

    2. For what, an error? F1 doesn’t need armchair policing, l mean it’s not golf.

      1. Fran, Vettel’s decision to park the car where he did wasn’t a mistake, it was a conscious decision to move away from any lines of rubber within his grid box onto grippier tarmac to the left.

    3. Horner asked for clarification, didn’t asked for a penalty.

        1. @hunocsi we need clarification. The rule isn’t entirely clear atm, and if there is a loophole they will exploit it. But I think the decision not to give a penalty was right, no one gained or lost anything with it, so we should be glad that the race wasn’t spoiled.

          I don’t know how comparable the WTCC can be to F1 if I’m honest, don’t know what set of rules they have for grid position and formation lap.

          1. There is a difference between: we’ll allow it if it was an accident, but will penalize if you do it on purpose vs it’s allowed if you do it on purpose.

            Horner is right to ask which of these is true.

      1. I know, hence IMO after the statement.
        He parked out of place because of a puddle, therefore he gained an advantadge. So, penalty. Unless there’s a loophole in this, which os completly pathetic and FIA should close it.
        Last year in Suzuka the inside line was damp, Hamilton crew asked for permission to dry the track (since the outside was dry) and it was denied. If this was a factor or not on his poor start i don’t know (i don’t think so), but he had to face the conditions.

  5. Re Horner’s comments….

    I don’t tend to agree with him much, but on this occasion I 100% do. What Seb did can be amounted to cheating because by positioning his car that far to the left, gave him an unfair advantage. The only person on the grid who didn’t have the tires that matched the conditions was Sainz, but he made no such attempt to gain an advantage.

    The rules state that after the formation lap(s) the drivers should position their cars “within” their designated box. Ok the word “within” might be open to scrutiny, but there are some rules that’s unwritten amongst the drivers and I believe that’s one of them and Seb broke those rules.

    It’s one thing to slightly angle your car towards the left or right of your competitor, which all the drivers have done before, but they were still ‘within’ (there’s that word again) their designated grid box.

    And as for Charlie saying it’s a common sense approach, really?

    1. Hamilton and Bottas were also out of the boxes. My understanding is the marker lines are slippery when wet. Which is why a few moved over. Looking at a picture of the grid it is amusing to discover that on a perfectly aligned car the box is under the wheels. So the reality is that this is an organisational mistake. The rules widened the cars. It should not be a huge step to work out that the grid boxes need to be widened.

      1. “Hamilton and Bottas were also outside the boxes”..

        Really? Hamilton’s front left is indeed outside the his pox, but compared to the positioning of Seb’s car, that’s not even a fair comparison.

        1. Depending on the series, one wheel out can be a penalty. However, I think F1 is not the only series that currently requires only two wheels to be in the box for a position to be valid.

        2. that’s the point, it’s not about fair comparison, it’s about clarifying rules.
          as others have mentioned, pretty sure Vettel knew this was a grey area and used it to his advantage.
          as to whether he actually gained an advantage, i suggest answer is speculative.

          1. “pretty sure Vettel knew this was a grey area and used it to his advantage.”

            Seb’s been in F1 since 07/08, during which time he has taken part in numerous wet/dry/damp races, but somehow he has never once used this supposed grey area? Why is that? Why use it now?

            There’s nothing grey about the rules, it says park on designated area. That area is clearly defined by the lines that a drawn on the tack that outlines the length and width of the cars. Where’s the grey area in that?

        3. Of course it is a fair comparison. An inch or a mile, a line is still a line.

      2. The boxes were widened. There was an image on here a few days ago of the boxes being widened 10cm either side

        1. My mistake about the pitboxes then. Personally I would have added another 5cm each side to allow for the cars to be off the lines.

          1. Gridboxes I should say.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      11th April 2017, 12:50

      To me, they are being consistent. Seb was more “within the box” than most drivers usually are “within the track limits.”

      They also let cars park at an angle. If they do this, some of the car is also outside the box….

      1. Parking at an angle and still in the designated box whilst doing so, is perfectly fine. More than half his car was outside of that box.

      2. My thoughts exactly.
        In the context of track limits “within” is satisfied by the inner tire still touching the white line. As by that rule, a car ist still “within” track limits even if about 99,9% of the car is actually off the track.
        Whether you agree with that or not, as long as there ist no clarification saying otherwise, it is therefore easy to argue that you are “within” your grid box as long as any tire is still within or at least in contact with the marker lines.

    3. @kgn11 If what SV did amounted to cheating he simply would have been penalized. He obviously was not cheating and Horner admits he did not gain an advantage. Are you sure you’re not already trying to mount a case for why LH will have lost to SV this year…because SV is a cheater?

      1. People have cheated in F1 before and gotten away with it, Seb wouldn’t have been the first.

        Seems like you’re already celebrating Seb winning the title and have written your conclusion that he did so by being smarter than everyone else and using China as an example.

        1. Except that, he didn’t cheat other than to the vast minority such as yourself.

          Second paragraph…awkward stretch to try to mirror my comment. I’m not celebrating anything wrt this year’s final result, as it would seem a likely SV LH year with it being either’s game until we know more. SV’s car placement last Sunday is irrelevant to the final outcome. What is relevant is that he seems, by general consensus, to be a genuine threat for the title. I’ll celebrate that when he is mathematically WDC.

      2. robbie… you’re probably onto something there… LH fans are building the case already, just in case… although, i personally doubt the Ferrari will be good enough over the course of the season.

      3. just to add a bit of info, Seb and Mika Salo (which holds a position at the FIA’s single seater commission) had the following to say about the matter:


        I didn’t want to be on the line on the wet track, and there is nothing in the regulations about not doing that

        Salo commented about the rule not being totally clear:

        When such an anomaly exists, we decided to let Vettel go in this case.
        It could have been a warning, but it’s better to have a more specific rule for these cases.

        1. This is not an anomaly, it happened last year and in that instance, it was slick tires on a wet track.

          If anyone should’ve done that, it was Sainz as his tires weren’t right for the conditions.

          Here’s another bit of info, Salo drove for Ferrari in F1 and in sportscar.

          1. the anomaly that he refers to is in the rules, not the situation.

            I’m just sharing what they had to say, and Salo was the only one from FIA that had something to share.

            You can’t also have a rule that allows drivers to be in different points on the grid because of the tyre chosen, its a decision that they have to live with.

            Your last sentence is just connecting imaginary dots and creating conspiracy theories. Pretty much everyone that works for FIA, F1, FOM, etc has/had ties with a brand or the other, you can spare that sort of comments as they don’t add anything. It is not like Salo would make decisions on its own and change/clarify rules on its own.

            FIA (via Salo) has said that there is in fact a grey area, no one complained (except a few fans), and the only team that had something to say about it was RB, and they didn’t complained either, just asked for clarification. So I don’t really get why the fuss about this.

  6. I guess the honeymoon is over at Sauber. Although not the right analogy, but it seems like Sauber have just realised they got married to a monster and they want their old date back.

    1. A monster?

    2. Married?

    3. Not the right analogy but you use it anyway? Come on… calling a driver a monster is extreme.

      1. I didn’t call a driver a monster.

      2. Antoon van Gemert
        11th April 2017, 10:16

        The German broadcaster RTL called Max Verstappen “Uberhohlmonster/overtake-monster”.

      3. C’mon man, it wasn’t really that hard to understand the point he was getting across. Let’s not get hung up on silly, pointless arguments about semantics.

  7. The rate at which he is destroying their cars, costing them money, time and great anguish. Besides, I did use the word, “analogy”, so I don’t believe he is one. But its anyone’s guess how the personnel at Sauber are feeling right now.

  8. F Kobayashi (@)
    11th April 2017, 9:36

    I was a big fan of Vettel’s driving last Sunday and I am glad he finished second, however he should have been at least reprimanded for the grid line up. It’s the same principle as staying within the track limits, no other sport is so lax about staying within the lines advantage or not.

    1. F Kobayashi (@)
      11th April 2017, 9:38

      Thinking about it, how on earth are you going to reprimand Ricciardo and Perez for not reaching their STANDING position for the national anthem yet be totally cool with Vettel almost entirely out of his grid box? Madness and just shows the lack of common sense ever present in F1 stewarding.

    2. Vettel has had a reputation of knowing every inch of the rules he did this as he knew it was not against the rules. If there is a clarification on this from the FIA he will not do it again. If nothing changes it is perfectly legal for him to do it again. The ball is in the FIA’s court.

      1. @markp

        It is infact against the rules but noone can prove Vettel did it on purpose.
        They have already said Vettel is not gonna get away with it a second time.

        1. Ah ok, I have not read enough to know this is not legal, however it can’t be black and white it must be open to interpretation as Horner has asked for clarification. The FIA really need to make a clear statement on this so everyone knows what the rule is. Vettel must of known he would get away with it there is no way he would blatantly do this if the rule is clear as he would have been punished.

        2. @rethla – According to the driver steward at Shanghai, it is not against the rules, hence the need for clarification.

          1. @hobo
            You have to do what you can to be in your box but exactly what that means isnt detailed so they let Vettel go with the benefit of doubt. They where clear on not allowing a reapeat of it from Vettel.

        3. Vettel said he did on purpose.

    3. If it is the same principle as staying “within” track limits how can you argue that he did anything wrong?
      To be “within” track limits the most inside part of a car (the inner tire) only has to so much touch the outer track markings. By that standard Vettel was well “within” his grid box ;).

  9. not sure about COTD – a bigger factor is the nature of the corner that leads onto the straight. the turn 6 hairpin in china is preceded by a slow, awkward corner that allows for multiple lines. turn 14 is preceded by a fast corner which is hard to follow other cars through.

    the final corner at bahrain is also fast/medium so it will be hard for cars to follow. the first complex is awkward and slow so i expect cars to be closer into T4. it’s not as simple as the braking zones.

  10. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    11th April 2017, 11:35

    All signs point to Bahrain return for Wehrlein, says Wolff

    Good – whilst every pundit and his dog has been getting overexcited by the fact Giovanazzi was faster than Ericsson (a driver outqualified by Andre Lotterer in his one-off Grand Prix cameo) in his first run in qualifying in Melbourne, I have not forgotten what a potentially excellent driver Wehrlein is.

    He probably would have taken the European F3 title in 2013 had he not been parachuted into the DTM seat vacated by retiree Ralf Schumacher. Indeed, given the strength and breadth of the DTM grid, to win a DTM title so young is probably a better credential than most single seater titles. With Manor, on occasion, he was truly stellar. Unfazed by incoming star Ocon, Pascal produced probably one of the laps of the year in Q1 at Spa. There are rough edges that justify his failure to procure Rosberg’s seat and there are whispers of off-track issues, but going by his on-track record alone I see reason why he cannot enjoy a long and successful career. So instead of gleefully talking up Giovinazzi’s chances at Pascal’s cost, maybe it is the ever anonymous Marcus Ericsson who should make way.

    1. Great comment @william-brierty! I’ve been saying for a while that Ericsson is way, way wide of the mark far too often. He never produces a blindingly performance and has had some truly average team-mates who he hasn’t got the better of. I didn’t rate Nasr and feel that any driver with 3 seasons experience should be putting in consistently impressive performances. I wanted to like him I felt after Spa 2014 he was making inroads but there hasn’t been enough to justify a seat on the grid for me. What frustrates me most about him is that he makes repeat errors and a lot of the time they should have been obvious in the first place. Silverstone 2016 I was standing at Stowe when he dropped it in practice. Every driver across every series that day had given the astroturf a wide berth on the exit but he attacked it and it cost him quali. I am aware he brings a good deal of money but engine discounts attached to a hungrier driver would be much better for the sport.

    2. Very true in my opinion however Eriksen v Pascal maybe close, Eriksen is underated and quite solid, he will never be a frontline driver but does not mean hecis rubbish. If you are not top level you can still be good.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        11th April 2017, 12:25

        Ericsson is undoubtedly good – you don’t win British Formula Renault and Japanese F3 titles if you are not good. But F1 is not about ‘good drivers’ – there are hundreds of truly world-class professional racing drivers; F1 is about the best, and F1 should always aspire to field the twenty best single seater drivers in the world. When there are the likes of Gasly, Leclerc and Giovanazzi on the outside, and the likes of Palmer and Ericsson on the inside of the bubble, then you would say there is room for improvement.

        1. Could not agree more!

    3. Interestingly, Ericsson frequently scored points in last years’ DOTW on this site (most of them at just 1%, but still, a lot of drivers fail to get even that). Either he has a small but very devoted group of supporters here (who vote no matter what happens), or his drives were indeed often impressive enough to warrant a small number of votes. In comparison, Wehrlein scored only 4 times, two of which were into double digits.

      AUS: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      BAH: WEH 12% / ERI 1%
      CHI: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      RUS: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      SPA: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      MON: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      CAN: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      EUR: WEH 1% / ERI 0%
      AUT: WEH 43% / ERI 0%
      BRI: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      HUN: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      GER: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      BEL: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      ITA: WEH 4% / ERI 1%
      SIN: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      MAL: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      JAP: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      USA: WEH 0% / ERI 1%
      MEX: WEH 0% / ERI 14%
      BRA: WEH 0% / ERI 0%
      ABU: WEH 0% / ERI 0%

      1. The Germans got other drivers to vote for but theres only one swede in the field.

        Haryanto won FIAs dotw :)

        1. @rethla Well, you don’t even take in consideration that it lives 80 million ppl in Germany…a bit more than in Sweden.

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        11th April 2017, 13:45

        @zimkazimka – I think a lot of people vote for Ericsson just to be ironic. And even then, acknowledging the fact that Marcus has a small unwavering constituency of support does not say anything about his skill behind the wheel.

    4. @william-brierty You have no clue what you are talking about.

      You rate him as a useless driver over 1 qualifying attempt against Gio and another against Lotterer.
      He has been driving the worst cars on the grid since he started, it’s pointless to compare him to other drivers except his teammate. He was a lot better than Nasr over the last 2 seasons, although Nasr scored more points.

      Pretty sure Wehrlein gonna have a hard time beating Marcus this year as well

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        12th April 2017, 12:50


        You rate him as a useless driver over 1 qualifying attempt against Gio and another against Lotterer.

        No, I am saying that is indicative of how utterly unremarkable he has been in his Grand Prix career to date. With the possible exception of last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, there has not been a single session in the entirety of his career when his performance has been remotely eye-catching. And why are we wondering: his four seasons in GP2 were a feat in utter mediocrity. Paradoxically, he was quite a star in the lower formulas – collecting titles in British Formula Renault and Japanese F3, he tested an F1, the Brawn no less, as early as 2009. But, as was also the case with Esteban Gutierrez, his performance level completely evapourated once he made the switch to the power-sensitive GP2 car.

        And that is why he didn’t get close to a F1 car again without the substantial backing he obtained in 2012 (which also bought him the DAMS seat in 2013). Marcus has no better reputation in the paddock than that which can be bought by his oddly anonymous sponsors. And that is why Force India politely ignored Ericsson when he approached the team last year, and that is why Wehrlein’s stock will dramatically fall if he doesn’t beat Ericsson comfortably this year.

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