2017 F1 driver rankings #16: Wehrlein

2017 F1 season review

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The off-season did not go well for Pascal Wehrlein. The Mercedes junior driver wasn’t considered start to the season was badly disrupted by his crash at the Race of Champions which left him with an injured neck.

He missed the first test for Sauber’s new C36 and although he was able to join in later, he stood down after Friday practice in Australia as he was still in pain. He spent the first two races on the sidelines.

This was a double blow as the early races were Sauber’s best chances to score points with its reliable but underpowered 2016-specification engine. The other teams made rapid progress while Sauber increasingly adopted radical pit stop strategies in the hope of getting among the points-scorers.

Pascal Wehrlein

Beat team mate in qualifying11/18
Beat team mate in race7/11
Races finished15/18
Laps spent ahead of team mate426/858
Qualifying margin-0.05

When Wehrlein returned in Bahrain he immediately dispelled any injury doubts with his performance. He qualified half a second faster than Marcus Ericsson, though this proved the high watermark for his season.

At round five in Spain, where engine power mattered less and Sauber was able to stretch its tyre stints, Wehrlein capitalised brilliantly with eighth place. The only mark against him was a five-second time penalty for cutting the pit lane entry which cost him seventh.

Attempts to repeat these aggressive strategies largely failed to pay off, as in Britain and Brazil. Although he was usually a safer pair of hands than Ericsson, Wehrlein’s crash in Canada cost him the opportunity to run Sauber’s new aerodynamic package that weekend.

Wehrlein was emphatically faster than Ericsson in Austria, where he finished ahead after starting from the pits, and Malaysia. If there was one area of his game where Ericsson had him consistently beaten it was starts: Wehrlein’s getaways tended to be more conservative, losing him more positions.

When team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was abruptly ejected from the team Wehrlein didn’t hesitate to express his gratitude for the support she had given him during his period of injury. Meanwhile the team was swift to reject claims Wehrlein’s team mate was receiving preferential treatment due to his connection to the team’s owners.

Nonetheless at the end of the season it was Wehrlein he lost his place while his point-less team mate was retained. No doubt Wehrlein could have beaten Ericsson more conclusively, but even so this was a tough verdict on a season where he was clearly the better of the two drivers.

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Over to you

Had a couple of good races, with the points scoring race in Spain as a standout. I expected him to outperform Ericsson significantly but that was not to be – probably without a seat next year in F1, but do believe we have not seen the last of Wehrlein as he is definitely talented.

What’s your verdict on Pascal Wehrlein’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

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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21 comments on “2017 F1 driver rankings #16: Wehrlein”

  1. Oh no i was biggest fan on Marcus Ericsson……….

  2. I don’t Really know what else poor pascal is supposed to do. I mean bianchi pretty much got handed the status of pre-alltime Great for scoring Points before all this nasty suzuka business. Wehrlein did it twice, in relatively straight forward races and everybody is like Yeah so-so

    1. It’s a good point there, his Manor Austria performance was exceptional. I’m sure he’ll find his way back to F1 though, Magnussen did and I’m sure Kyvat will too. 3 more teams though, please.

    2. Agree

      But not really sure where he should be put in the rankings, at best in front of K-Mag and Grosjean, which could be a stretch.

      So far I would have put the rankings exactly as they are

      1. Don’t really get that. Pascal did a better job than Kimi, for instance, no?

        1. Kimi performance was so unforgettable I didn’t even remembered him

  3. Underrated, as usual.

    His 1 stop points finish in Spain was one of the drives of the season, and continually had issues beyond his control ruin other chances of good finishes. In the top 8 of the season for me, and crazy that he doesn’t have a seat for 2018.

    1. I have to agree with that, I’d stick Wehrlein in my top 10 for the year. People admit that it is hard to stand out when you are driving the slowest car on the grid and then seem slow to praise Wehrlein for sticking that car in the points. Twice.

      I am amazed he wasn’t considered more strongly for the Williams drive. He’s really quick and has proved he can grab big results when they are on offer, just what Williams need as far as I can see. There have been question marks over his attitude following the snub by Force India, but he apparently learned from this and gets on well with the Sauber team, so he obviously takes criticism well. I’m very sad he won’t be on the grid next year.

      1. Danny's District Council
        8th December 2017, 14:17

        His future might even be best served by spending 2018 as Mercedes test/reserve driver instead of another year trundling around at the back. Could put him in a strong position to grab the drive if LH decides to pack it in earlier than most; he keeps making noises about having his eye on other things and being aware that’s there’s a world outside of F1.

      2. Martini wants a driver that is at least 25.

    2. @ho3n3r Interestingly, he is 8th in the F1 metrics model. His 8th place in Spain was one of the very few truly outstanding performances of the season.

  4. It seems unfair to judge a driver like Wehrlein because he race in the worst team. Every time he left, he knew that he would possibly be fighting for the last places.
    I hope he has the opportunity to drive for a better team.

  5. I really appreciated Pascals driving. Almost always it felt like he did the best with the car he had, i don’t think he is champion material but he should have stayed in F1.

  6. This ratings business is a funny old thing. Kimi above Pascal is as close to a farce as I can see. Why not put both current Torro Rosso drive above him…. they raced less than half a season between them but hey force india didn’t like the guys attitude so he must be worthless.

  7. His points in Spain was just pure luck. Ericsson would have been in the same position if his race wasn’t destroyed by the vsc.
    Hyped and overrated driver. Now when Toto has dropped him he will never get back to F1.

  8. Michael Brown (@)
    9th December 2017, 5:19

    I really hope he gets to race next year.

  9. This guy must be at least better than Grosjean or Kevin, remember he scored points on a Sauber, something he did twice while at the same time his teammates failed to do so, I can’t see Grosjean doing the same with the same equipment.

    1. I think Grosjean could. He is very inconsistent. That being very good at times and poor at others. For example, Keith has counted him as a star and struggler both 4 times this year. I think he will have once of twice put in a very good performance even in the weakest car.

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