Pascal Wehrlein, Albert Park, 2018

Wehrlein still deserves F1 seat – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he still believes the team’s former junior drier Pascal Wehrlein deserves a seat in Formula 1.

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What they say

Wolff is trying to find seats for Esteban Ocon and George Russell next year as Wehrlein has left the team’s junior programme:

There are many reasons why we started the junior programme. One is that we felt we wanted to help talent that didn’t have the means to come through the ranks.

Mercedes was helping Pascal from the very, very early days – I met him when he was 16 at the Norisring. We had a great journey together, from the ADAC to F3, then DTM. We’ve invested time and money. The same with George Russell and Esteban Ocon.

But we’re coming to a point that we haven’t got a junior team. If you’re lacking possibilities to place them then you need to either think about reducing them and releasing somebody or changing the strategy. We are at a crossroads at the moment.

We’re going to see how it pans out with George and Esteban, and that is how we continue. But obviously we also felt together with Pascal that this was the best outcome for him.

My opinion of him is still very high and it looked like we could’ve been possibly blocking his future career and this is not what we wanted. He also felt that he needed to do it on his own and give it a go on his own. And so I would be overwhelmed and happy if he finds his way back to Formula 1 on his own or a professional racing career.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Would F1 be better offer freeing teams up from restrictions on tyre use?

I think the mandatory pit stop started all this nonsense. Free them of this restriction, bring three different compounds per race, the same quantity for each compound for every team, and let them decide what to do.

Even if an optimal strategy will always exist, we might see more room for gambling, also different strategy for cars/drivers that conserve tires better versus aggressive drivers/cars that wear tyres more. That will increase chances of more varied strategy without causing logistics issues for the tyre supplier.

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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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61 comments on “Wehrlein still deserves F1 seat – Wolff”

  1. Pretty much every tyre rule is doomed to fail with today’s cars.A no-stop means a train to the finish.One-stop ususally only means a small bit of action during the pit windows.A mandatory two-stop would be a more artificial idea than the sprinklers.Until cars need a huge delta time to pass one another,this whole tyre-tinkering is pointless.

    1. I’m saying this for a long time now, the problem with tyres is the mandatory rule to use at least 2 different sets. That make strategies pretty much the same.

      Imagine a race when someone try a strategy running 3 stints of softer tyres, for example, something that isn’t possible with actual rules. Things would get pretty interesting.

      1. DRS is another thing that keeps them from alternative strategies.
        Gaining trackposition by staying out on older tires often results in a typical Highway „pass“.
        An exception was Sirotkin in Singpore, and that was the best scenes of the race.

    2. REFUELING. it’s so obvious. why is everyone so snobbish about it?

      – dictate a minimum number of pitstops by changing the size of the tank
      – introduce another strategic variable for teams to deal with
      – reduce the weight of the current obese cars
      – bring back sprint style racing

      Oh no it’s dangerous. There hasn’t been a refueling related fire worth noting in Indycar or WEC for years, so what’s the problem? And we could see waterpistols used in F1, who doesn’t want to see that?

      1. Yeah, to make sure the racing becomes cheaper, add 5 or more people per team in the pitlane. That’ll work great.

        1. There are so many mechanics already working on the cars, they don’t need to employ more people.

      2. @graham228221 The problem with refuelling wasn’t so much safety as that there was even less action on track as strategy revolved around pit stops – why take the risks of overtaking on track if you can avoid it?

        I think that this is one of the problems with F1: there’s so much money involved that it’s become an exercise in risk-management more than racing. Everything is analysed in minute detail to extract the last gram of performance and exploit the tiniest loophole. It’s “winning as slowly as possible” taken to the Nth degree.

      3. You’re missing out the fact that everyone tried to pass eachother through pit stops. That’s the key.

        1. @ecwdanselby

          hmmm… so kinda like… now?

          why do we want more pitstops at all then?

      4. @graham228221 It was detrimental to on-track overtaking, though.

    3. Fia could allow the teams to mix compounds. At the same time fia could loosen then 2 compound rule by allowing a team to fulfill the rule if they use 4 tires from one compound and then some others (2 or more). Naturally the directional switching should stay banned if pirelli wants it (switch left rear to right and vice versa).

      Then we could see drivers start with super softs on rear and softs on front and then switch to full soft setup on the next pitstop for example. Or start with super softs on front, giga softs on rear, then on pits just change the rears. I call it 4+2 rule. Or start with super softs on front, giga softs on rear, then on pits change all tires but keep the ss on front and gs on rear. Instead of 2 full sets of compounds allow teams to mix the compounds. As long as they use minimum of 4 tires of one compound and 2 tires of other compound it would be enough. 4 tires could be 4 front tires or 4 rear tires.

      I think in rain it might be cool to see some team try cross tired setup where they put left front and right rear on slicks and front right and left rear on intermediates. Or different compounds front to rear. Grippier tires on rear = better start but more wear.

      1. Forgot to clarify. Front tires should be used only on the front and rear tires on the rear though.

  2. Scumbag Toto: “our drivers deserve f1 seats (for ocon, wehrlein and rusell), but not our own seats”

    1. well i guess he likes Bottas kissing butt

    2. Toto clearly doesn’t read and all the flack he got last week claiming the unfairness of, and his innocence, that Ocon doesn’t have a seat.
      This boy’s a crying Wolff, and his contracted drivers the sheep.

    3. Let’s be fair to Toto, they helped a driver through the ranks up until F1, and they only have space for two. Do we expect Mercedes to change their drivers every year just to bring in a new driver?
      Good drivers have very long careers, like 10 to 16/17years. Even some not so good drivers have length spells in F1. What them happens to all those drivers coming up?
      Even with an additional 6cars on the grid, we’d still have a bottle neck.
      What’s the point sponsoring a driver if they have no prospects.

      1. Do we expect Mercedes to change their drivers every year just to bring in a new driver?

        But we do expect them to release a driver when they don’t have (or want to sponsor) a seat for them. Ocon would have been picked up by STR.

        1. Hi ColdFly – I’ve not responded to you before because I usually pretty much agree with what you write… However, I take issue with this oft-quoted opinion that, if OCO had been free he WOULD have got an STR drive.
          Horner has said he WOULD NOT consider OCO… and therefore DID NOT consider him but, for why, we do not know… I suspect he just wanted to have a dig at Merc., and preen his own feathers. And, since when has Mr Horner’s integrity been blameless, and so easily believed.
          It’s also pretty likely that RB would have wanted OCO to sign for 2-3 years… so it could well be OCO who hasn’t chased an STR seat – and who could blame him when you consider how many STR drivers have been treated over the years…
          This is not a dig at you but at a general feeling that Horner would have jumped at OCO, as he allegedly did at ALO… :)

          1. Horner has said he WOULD NOT consider OCO

            … as long as ocon was hired by a competitor! Don’t leave out the essential parts of the quote to make it fit your opinion.

          2. So… you’re NOW saying that Horner would not consider OCO as long as he was hired by a competitor…
            Does this make sense…? If OCO was hired by a competitor he wouldn’t be available for Horner…
            I could also ask why you never respond to my main point that Horner is hardly the most reliable source of honest comment in the F1 paddock – ‘pot’ and ‘kettle’ come to mind… lol.
            But keep it up, sock(it to them)solid… Someone might agree with you eventually… :)

          3. It makes perfect sense why red bull would not hire a mercedes junior driver. Toro rosso only exists for couple of reasons and one is to find the best f1 drivers for red bull. If ocon does well at toro rosso mercedes takes him back. There is no reason for red bull to take ocon as long as he is contracted to mercedes.

            Who do you think is a reliable source in f1 mr. ad hominem?

          4. BlackJackFan – All drivers are not hired by the team they drive for.

            Look at Red Bull having Sainz Drive for Renault.

            This made perfect sense for both teams. Renault developes with a driver that has some experience, while the driver gets his skills honed. He is still on Contract with RB and in any event they could stop extending their deal, and pull the driver.

            This is the situation that Ocon is in. Wolff is his manager and has hired him thru Mercedes. This was the case when he raced for FI and is the reason that Ocon couldnt be considered for STR.
            STR developes drivers for RB That is their prime directive. Why would they develope a driver that is a shoe in for the next Mercedes seat?

          5. socksolid – you’re still refusing to answer the point I originally made in response to your original comment – you just keep repeating variations on your original comment. Unfortunately repeating yourself doesn’t make your theory any more factual… And asking who IS a reliable source suggests you now agree that Horner isn’t either.
            I originally replied to your first post because I had hopes we might develop a debate here… but we don’t even have a discussion… Sad…

          6. Hi Kelvin – I’m not sure I fully understand what you’re saying… but, I think I can agree with most of what you say.
            But it does appear that you are saying it is all right for RB to ‘loan’ a driver to Renault but… they will not take a driver who is ‘on loan’ from another team. This seems either contradictory, or even hypocritical, on RB’s behalf…
            As far as I’m concerned RBR/STR can do whatever they like – just be honest about it – or keep quiet… If they want to loan out Sainz (who I suspect they were getting bored with, and were happy to lose him) that’s fine by me. If they don’t want to take any particular ‘outside’ driver, that’s fine also.
            I just don’t have any interest in Horner’s ‘spin’ (and he’s not alone in this…) – look at the absurd non-discussion between him and ALO – who to believe…? For me, neither. They’re both tarred with the same brush…
            Which is where this whole thread started because it was being asserted that: Horner said it, so it must be true… I find it difficult to be that naive…

            Thanks for your contribution, Kelvin.

  3. OK, so being in the antipodes I have only just read the unemployed WDC potential drivers unemployment article, no comment because F1 is broken thanks to Bernie with a little help from his friend and business partner Max M.
    A possible solution though might be an alternative series using the previous years cars, it would have to be totally separate from F1, different meetings/tracks etc. Cost savings could be had by reducing the races to half distance, a control tyre to last race distance, 100% of any revenue equally divided, fta TV coverage, race by race livery and sponsorship, who knows it might just take off and open doors for exceptional talents. It might also allow a smooth transition for F1 teams to get away from the $8B burden that is still destroying F1.

  4. Saward has a point though. Many tv stations and even f1 teams use young attractive females in pr positions. Is it wrong? No. Are they chosen because of they look? I’m sure it counts as a positive. Does not take away at all from the fact that there are also lots of professional women in f1 who do great job. Like lee mckenzie. But I’d guess this is one of those things where if you say anything critical about some women it is automatically attack on all women everywhere.

    It is like these discussions always instantly drop down to youtube comments level. You either agree or you hate women. Say you don’t think danica patrick was a very good nascar driver and people instantly call you sexist. Say you don’t think suzy wulff was deserving of her f1 drive because she had pretty horrible results in all cars she drove before it. Sexist. Even if the argument has nothing to do with her gender it is sexist.

    What if said some men are chosen as tv faces because of their good looks?

    1. @socksolid

      All of that discussion is so ridiculous, I agree. Of course people are chosen for their looks on TV. Why would anybody disagree that straight men would be more likely stop to talk a pretty women than some male journo. Are there attractive female reporters who are also smart & good at what they do? Yes, obviously.

      1. @socksolid despite me being very liberal and opposed to the use of women in ‘job roles’ that could be carried out by sticks (for example) I completely agree.

        These kind of arguments do more damage against liberalism.

        1. If you don’t look good you get shipped to radio :)

          1. And if you don’t look good, or even sound good, you do what I do and populate the internet comments section ;-)

  5. Mark in Florida
    27th September 2018, 2:24

    Joe is correct in what he said. Tv is all about appearance and attractiveness. The tactic of having a good looking reporter is pretty much the standard all over the world, male or female. But nowadays if you point out the obvious your sexist or chauvinistic. If this turns into some kind of backlash against good looking reporters they might loose their jobs like those poor grid girls did. For do gooders must save working people from exploitation even if they don’t feel the exploitation.

    1. Facts are racist and sexist today.

    2. Completely agree. Stating the obvious sometimes makes you ‘sexist’ or politically incorrect these days. It’s not like Joe hired the attractive women, he’s just stating that other teams did pull these tactics… and as you mentioned, every single TV channel and film maker has for as long as we know. Yet, Joe becomes the villain.

      1. Yes and its sad.

        1. Whilst I do actually agree that these comments shouldn’t be criticised adio harshly by liberals. It’s equally ridiculous to compare this to the ‘poor grid girls’. These pretty women in the pit lane actually carry out a challenging job with a real purpose. It’s worlds apart from the grid girl discussion.

          1. Mark in Florida
            28th September 2018, 4:36

            @gongtong these girls did have a job on the grid they held the signs with the drivers number on it. They are in the same class as the guy on the road construction crew with the sign that says stop and slow. But these guys are not attractive so there’s no ridiculous hue and cry to put them out of a job. The grid girls stated that they used the job on the track to network for other jobs since this gave them public exposure on tv. But that doors been slammed in their face due to self righteous political types sticking their nose where it’s not needed. You only need to be moderately intelligent to ask pre prepped questions for the camera, if you stumble the interview no worries they’re pretty enough to be forgiven.

      2. @todfod

        It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes. When reality doesn’t match the ideology, anyone who points this outs get attacked and gets treated as if they want reality to be this way. It’s attacking the messenger, pure and simple.

        The irony is that by doing so, these people support the very inequality that they claim to oppose.

  6. Thanks Keith for my first COTD!!! I’ve been reading this site for 10 years, and I feel honoured be part of this community, and COTD is one of the sections that I like to read the most! Cheers!

    1. WHAT? – you mean it might be ten years before I get my first COTD!
      I’ll never get a virus at this rate … go virile I mean … No no, Viral … oh forget it ;)

  7. I made a similar suggestion as COTD’s a few weeks ago. Got annihilated! :D

    1. Understand, Zim. But the F1 racefans COTD circuit is a piranha club fed by a capricious stream of fickle words. Better luck next time – or next decade. ;-)

    2. COTD’s are chosen to prolong the discussions and hits/clicks.
      Nothing wrong with that; very smart indeed.

  8. Cristiano Ferreira
    27th September 2018, 4:04

    The blame for Ocon and Wehrlein situation is on Mercedes who only wants to benefits themselves since they pushed around for the current engine rules, threatening to leave if not approved. They could have saved Manor/Marussia and turned it in something like Sauber now.

    Instead Toto Wolf wants a third car, for another pawn (because one isn’t enough) to race as an excuse for an additional seat when they could have another 2 (as Manor).
    This one is on Mercedes and i feel sorry for Ocon and Wehrlein.

    Its embarassing that someone like Toto Wolf says that their drivers deserves a seat, but not a Mercedes seat. It’s kind like what McLaren is doing with Vandoorne right now.

    1. Well Mclaren aint exactly in the position to have a B team right now. If they did they probably would be beaten by them.

    2. Toto wants to earn some side income from Mercedes as commission money as Bottas’ manager while also making Mercedes spend additional money to keep Ocon, Russell and Wehrlein on the grid.

      Not fair Toto.

    3. @Cristiano Ferreira ”since they pushed around for the current engine rules, threatening to leave if not approved.”
      – Renault did so as well, though, in fact, they pushed for the current engine regs even more than Mercedes did.

  9. On the subject of special liveries – I think about it in the same way as drivers’ helmet designs. We probably want to avoid teams changing liveries willy-nilly for the same reason why we don’t want drivers to change the basic design of their helmet – they become unrecognisable.

    The teams unveiling their liveries (along with a new car) at the start of every year tends to generate excitement and buzz. Personally I’d like to see the teams being allowed to have a livery “joker” card that they can play at a single race of their choosing as a one-off, at some point during the season. It would create a lot of excitement, and bring a lot of attention to the team that chooses to use it at that race. It could be used for a home GP, for milestone race, or for one of the more “prestigious” races.

    With 10 teams, and over 20 races, it would be happening fairly infrequently, and for most of the year each team would be using their original design.

    1. This sounds like a computer game to me… ;)

  10. Credit to FOG for listening to viewer’s ire and making the original timing app available again.

    1. Well done. Even the successful tech companies (recall Twitter and Snapchat, etc. redesign issues) didn’t react as quickly and ‘user-friendly’ as FOM did this time.

  11. How about for one race a year – whichever looks like it’s going to be the most boring – all teams have to run identical colour schemes and drivers all wear the same pattern helmet?
    Listening to the commentators struggle would be hilarious and team radios should be good as well.

    We need good racing – not social media style gimmicks like “look at our cool paint job”.

    Good to see the old timing app being made available again. Nice to know someone is listening.

    1. Listening to the commentators struggle would be hilarious and team radios should be good as well.

      I feel sorry for Bottas and Raikkonen; they will then let the whole field pass in an effort not hold up their teammates ;)

    2. Nulla Pax – and bring back Murray for this event as well…? :)

  12. Mercedes was helping Pascal from the very, very early days – I met him when he was 16 at the Norisring.

    I don’t get this, he met him when he was 16 or did they start helping him at that age? Because if it is the latter “very, very early days” is a bit of a stretch

  13. Im sorry but who is zak brown? Please can someone enlighten me as to what he has accomplished. Except for bad mouthing mclarens recent past leadership. And what is indycar and nascar? No offense but thats like asking manchester united to follow a 4 level lower division soccer team strategy.

  14. It’s all a bit unrealistic though to expect there to be a seat for every new talented driver that comes along regardless of extra cars.

    If a miracle happens and Ocon, Vandoorne, and Russell all get seats for 2019, and they (plus all the other drivers on the grid including Stroll and Sirotkin) all do well, where does next year’s F2 Champion and any other “new talent” end up?

    This has always been a problem, there’s way more talent than there is seats. Some really talented drivers have either missed out completely or only spend a year or so in F1, usually because someone else gets their seat for “financial reasons”

    If Toto was really concerned, he’d be making sure that their young drivers were on the receiving end of some heavy sponsorship so they actually could be attractive to struggling teams at the bottom of the pack.

    Let’s face it if Ocon came with a lot of cash, Williams would be doing all they could to sign him. Financial backing was, is and always will be the primary way most young drivers get into teams in a wide variety of motor racing series. F1 is no different.

  15. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Miami GP proposal would end up the same way as the NJ GP proposal earlier this decade.
    – Interesting point(s) from Toto and Interesting COTD as well.
    – Joe Saward’s tweet, though.

  16. Wehrlein still deserves F1 seat – Wolff

    Not with a haircut like that !

  17. Why is it soo necessary to go from d lower divisions to the higher divisions annually

  18. The problem for Wolff is that he needs to act to save the careers of his juniors rather than blaming everyone but himself. Red Bull bought a junior team, Ferrari put driver deals in their engine supply contracts. Both of those teams will have a junior driver progressing to the main team next year.
    If Wolff truly believes in Ocon & Russel he should have done the same, Ocon is probably more deserving of the second Mercedes seat anyway

  19. Wolf you are more than welcome to hire both OCO and WER as drivers…they are your problem not Williams, Fi, Haas or anybody else… Tired of your crying..

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