Pascal Wehrlein, Albert Park, 2018

Wehrlein to leave Mercedes at the end of 2018

2018 F1 season

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Former Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein will split from Mercedes at the end of the season, the team has announced.

The 23-year-old has raced for Mercedes in the DTM this year since losing his Sauber seat to Charles Leclerc at the end of last year. However Mercedes is scrapping its DTM team at the end of 2018, and the team confirmed it cannot offer Wehrlein a competitive drive next year.

“Our junior programme has always been about supporting young talent and finding opportunities that are in the best interests of the drivers’ careers,” said team principal Toto Wolff. “It is not always a straight path to the top – and sometimes we have to recognise that it is the right time to end a relationship, too.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t offer Pascal a competitive drive for next year. In his best interests, we have therefore decided together with Pascal not to extend our agreement and to give him the best chance of securing an opportunity elsewhere that his talent merits. We want to thank him for his fantastic performances for Mercedes-Benz in recent years and wish him all the best for the future.”

Wehrlein, who has been backed by the team for the last five years, thanked Mercedes for their support.

“My contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the 2018 season and we have jointly decided not to continue further together,” he said. “I am looking for new challenges and opportunities, and am currently talking to other teams about a cockpit for next season.”

Mercedes also has Esteban Ocon and George Russell on its young driver scheme.

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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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34 comments on “Wehrlein to leave Mercedes at the end of 2018”

  1. Mercedes isn’t using properly it’s junior drivers. Ocon is in danger of losing his seat for 2019 and now Wehrlein is dropped. What is next?

    1. @panagiotism-papatheodorou I couldn’t agree more with you.

      1. Although it isn’t a popular opinion I think Ferrari is using its drivers better than everyone. They have Leclerc coming up to Ferrari while keeping Kimi in Sauber Who will be able because of his experience to lift them which will benefits future young drivers. Giovinazzi May also replace Ercisson which would be great for him.

        Red Bull on the other hand though I feel change their drivers too quickly which leads to many of them being dropped whithin as season or two such as Kvyat Who was initially though a great talent and now he is relegated to a test Driver.

        1. @panagiotism-papatheodorou in terms of successes and the ability to actually give drivers a shot, you can’t beat Red Bull even if their management lately has been harsh towards youngers. But a lot of people were given the chance to race for more than a year something no other team does. It’s easier to fill 4 seats that way. Think about it, Red Bull has not hired anyone from outside their programme after Webber, with the only exception being Hartley who had been part of it in the past.

          I agree that Ferrari is doing well lately, and Mercedes is by far the worst at it.

        2. Interestingly Kvyat has signed to drive with Toro Rosso next season. I’m glad to see him back but…OCON?

    2. What should Merc be doing with their junior drivers?

      1. @Ukyounji Regarding Esteban:

        Helping Force India out by participating in the buyout mid-season would have been one option.

        Allowing Esteban to temporary put his Mercedes duties aside to gain experience elsewhere (at either Toro Rosso or, more likely, McLaren) would have been another.

        Helping fund a completely new entrant for 2019 would have been a third option.

        Swapping Bottas (or, much less likely, Hamilton) out for Ocon a fourth choice.

        Williams and Haas are a fifth/sixth option, and at least in theory, still on the table.

        Note: all of these options have upsides and downsides. Sometimes, a team has to prioritise what it wants.

        In the case of Option #1, that would likely enable Russell or Wehrlien to have been the development driver for Force India. That may still be possible, but the new bosses’ intentions are not 100% clear yet.

        Getting Ocon into Renualt, McLaren Williams or Haas would not have had this benefit, but would have had longer-term benefits; demonstrating the ability to co-operate well with other teams would allow a strategy of “parking” Russell in Formula Nippon, Formula E or some other “sideways” step for a year/part-year, followed by getting a third-party seat in 2020.

        Helping fund a new team obviously creates two new race seats and a new development seat, possibly enabling all three junior drivers’ woes to be resolved in one move, depending on the attitudes of the other funders. (A co-investor with a driver they want to assist would presumably get to fill that race seat with the driver in question).

        Promoting Ocon to Mercedes might not immediately create a conveyor effect, but it makes it that much more convincing to the other junior drivers that there’s a point sticking around for a “parking” season. Wehrlien’s experience will currently not be helping them.

        Toto Wolff has had some bad breaks when it comes to his drivers; the main one being the loss of half of the Force India team to powers whose only known intent is to help a pilot that will never be a Mercedes junior driver. However, there were too many power-plays (or perceptions of powerplays) going round for teams to trust each other’s intentions, which prevented Toto getting the results he wanted. Remember that four/five-way swaparoo that was meant to be scheduled for Monza? Even knowing about it got some teams jittery. Sometimes, power is about not showing one’s full hand, and being able to hide that one has a secret.

        It is difficult for me to sympathise with Toto completely, when a fair bit of the situation was under his control despite the stated problems outside his control.

    3. George Russell not getting an F1 seat after winning this years F2, I suppose @panagiotism-papatheodorou

      1. Yes, this is what will be next

      2. and Ocon replacing Werhlein in domestic DTM series …

        1. Mercedes will no longer have a DTM program @spoutnik. They won’t be able to place their driver there anymore.

          I can only see FE as alternative

          1. @johnmilk oops thanks for the info! My informations are not up-to-date indeed.

    4. This kid is a useless punk and has less than zero talent. Ocon is a super cool kid with more talent than Leclerc, Verstappen, Stroll or any other junior. After 40+ years of following F1 and junior racing I am just about done. It is all about the money and nothing about talent

  2. For Wehrlein it’s good thing. Even within Mercedes juniors I would rate him behind Ocon. With Russell having not competed in F1 yet, it’s not sensible to compare them.

    Anyway, I don’t see Wehrlein as a potential superstar.

  3. Mercedes…where young drivers drift into obscurity

  4. Well they’ve done nothing for him really so I’m not surprised. I still don’t get the whole ‘contract tie’ thing, I mean they can publically sever connections now, Wehrlein could go to whatever team and perform brilliantly for a year or two years and then Merc can swoop in and grab him anyway if they wanted. Same with Ocon. Their vice-like grip on the contractual situations of these drivers is terminating their careers and its making them look worse than McLaren and Red Bull.

    1. The did nothing? They basically gave him a DTM titel and a f1 seat, but it’s just that they need the points and wehrlein wasn’t going to give it to them and mercedes isn’t that active outside of F1.

  5. Maybe he’ll land at Toro Rosso? I’d pick him!

    1. Exactly what I’d do. Can’t see a better driver out there who’s not owned by another team.

    2. I hope he does!

    3. Wouldn’t be a bad pick. He’s got the talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vandoorne is on Toro Rosso’s shortlist as well.

  6. Toto have some balls and do the same with Ocon, release him from his contract let the kid go to STR, after all it’s about doing the best for the interest of the driver’s careers is it not?

    1. @johnmilk Alas, no. The schemes are there to help the teams rather than the drivers.

      1. Our junior programme has always been about supporting young talent and finding opportunities that are in the best interests of the drivers’ careers

        I know @alianora-la-canta but the quote above is pretty ironic isn’t it?

  7. “Hello Pascal, it’s Helmut Marko here…”

    If I was Helmut, this is what I would be doing right now…

    1. Driving in circles
      14th September 2018, 15:37

      You mean get a driver who was not able to beat Erickson?

      1. I mean get a driver who was given the worst car on the grid in consecutive seasons and who was able to score points on three separate occasions.

        And just FYI, he did beat Ericsson in 2017. Wehrlein scored 5 points, Ericsson scored 0.

        1. @geemac

          And just FYI, he did beat Ericsson in 2017. Wehrlein scored 5 points, Ericsson scored 0.

          Not only that, he also beat him in the races (7:4 in races they both finished) and in qualifying (11:7). And all that despite missing virtually all of winter testing and the first two races.

          Some people …

          1. Indeed. I knew the stats favoured Wehrlein over the season but I didn’t have the time to find them, so thanks for that @nase. Ultimately though, points mean prizes…

          2. And if you think about the team orders that didn’t go as planned, Ericsson will have finished ahead and got a point. It would then be 6 – 5 to Wehrlein in the races. While I know you disagree here, I think he will have got at least 1, maybe 2 points in Mexico last year if his engine didn’t blow. With this considered, he would have likely got at least 2 over the year and will have scored in as many races as Wehrlein. Ericsson was certainly unlucky not to get points in Baku given what the team told him they would do if Wehrlein couldn’t make any progress.

            Also, the battle in qualifying doesn’t explain everything. Ericsson and Wehrlein were the closest team mates on the entire grid last year in terms of average time gap in qualifying. Wehrlein may have beaten him more often, but when Ericsson beat him, it was often by a significently bigger gap then when Wehrlein beat him, which was partly what made the average time be so close.

            An article somewhere at the beginning of this year mentioned that Ericsson’s ballast in his car wasn’t the right weight to balance with his own. I think Vasseur was even mentioning that this had been a problem for Ericsson over the last year, but has this year been sorted out. It quite possibly will have cost him a tiny bit of time as his car was overweight.

            Overall, there really was’t a significant difference between Ericsson and Wehrlein. I myself believe Ericsson’s 1 lap pace is pretty poor. Look at how easily Leclerc is beating him in qualifying. Wehrlein was barely any quicker on average than Ericsson here. So I think personally that he is not as good as many think. He was better in the races, but still wasn’t significantly better than Ericsson.

      2. Swede spotted.

  8. This is bound to happen when there are more F2/F3/DTM champions in a year vs F1 drivers retiring/leaving

  9. Wehrlein looked like a good talent in f1, merced failed to manage him properly and he found himself out of formula 1 and now ditched by the team, seems as if the same thing is happening with ocon, if I was george russell I wouldn’t trust my future with mercedes

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