Date: 8th December 2016 at 9:21am
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Whilst the media attention has been on the possibility of either Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel quitting McLaren Honda or Ferrari for Mercedes, the favourites for the seat alongside Lewis Hamilton have always been Pascal Wehrlein and Valtteri Bottas.

Pascal Wehrlein has always been the obvious choice for Mercedes to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg.

The Silver Arrows team have always had a German driver since their return to the sport as a manufacturer in 2010.

For the first three seasons they paired two German drivers together with seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher ending his retirement to join Nico Rosberg.

Following Schumacher’s second retirement, Lewis Hamilton joined Rosberg.

Wehrlien would continue that tradition and at 22 years of age, he also fits the recent trend of backing young drivers.

After a season at Manor in 2016, finishing a best place 10th in Austria he is without a team in Formula One next season, something at this late stage of the year is something that’s rare amongst the desirable drivers, in fact he’s the only one.

‘Clearly, with Nico taking the decision quite late we are in a bit of a compromised situation because if we had known three months ago there were more options available. Wolff told Sky Sports.

So why wasn’t he immediately announced as Rosberg’s successor?

Unfortunately there are questions marks on Wehrlien, especially as Force India opted for Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon over Wehrlien.

‘Sometimes in life things turn out differently than you expected, I think in terms of performance, both have had great races in the past, had solid performances with Manor, and they deserve a future in Formula 1.

‘Therefore I consider both of them as future stars.’
Wolff added.

It would appear though that Wehrlien is simply plan B, once Mercedes have exhausted the outside options, including that of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas only signed a new contract with Williams last month, but his manager is Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

If Mercedes wanted to do a deal with Williams, they may be more welcoming than either McLaren or Ferrari, considering Williams purchase Mercedes power-units.

The 27-year-old Finnish driver has impressed the paddock during his four years in Formula One, where he has a best placed finish of 2nd [twice in 2014].

He would offer more experience to Mercedes, something that could prove crucial during a period of changing regulations.

‘Besides the personal relationship, where he’s a very likeable and intelligent driver, he’s also somebody who is very, very fast Wolff also told Sky Sports.

But he’s with Williams now, the lead driver, and is very important for the combination with Lance Stroll. Claire [Williams] and her team very much rely on him.’

So what exactly Wolff looking for?

‘out and out pace in order to challenge Lewis and grow the general performance within the team. We need somebody that goes lightning fast. To combine all those three factors is what Nico has been able to do over the years.

‘We will not change the philosophy. We want to have two drivers with equal opportunities that can race each other, because I think we owe that to the fans and ourselves. It’s the way we want racing to happen.’

 

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