Gerhard Berger would have picked Pascal Wehrlein over Valtteri Bottas

Former driver Gerhard Berger sits in a car on track after qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 20, 2015
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F1 legend Gerhard Berger says that if he were in charge at Mercedes, he would have signed Pascal Wehrlein for 2017.

Formula 1 legend Gerhard Berger has said that if he were in charge at Mercedes, he would have signed Pascal Wehrlein for 2017.

The former Ferrari and McLaren driver helped negotiate Nico Rosberg's lucrative new contract earlier this year, but the German quit F1 as soon as he won the 2016 title.

Now, it appears that Mercedes have negotiated a complex contract release with Williams so that Valtteri Bottas can replace Rosberg.

However, Berger told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I would have taken Wehrlein. Because it would underline your [driver] programme.

"Wehrlein gave a convincing impression in the programme, but he can only show how good he really is in a top car."

However, Berger said that he understands Mercedes's reasoning.

"Compared to Bottas, Wehrlein is certainly a risk. But perhaps the most clever solution is not always the obvious one," he said.

"I rate Bottas highly. He is fast, a good team player, a nice guy and he has earned the chance to prove himself. On the other hand, he did not stand out from Massa enough to say clearly 'He is the right choice'."

Berger also thinks that Mercedes's 2017 solution is only an "interim" one.

"Mercedes needs to think about the future regarding its drivers, because even [Lewis] Hamilton's contract will expire. They need an interim solution with a view to 2018," he said.

"The most important thing now is to find a second driver so that Hamilton doesn't fall asleep. But it could also be that without Nico, Lewis finds the peace he needs and doesn't get himself into trouble.

"I believe Mercedes will again be the benchmark in 2017."

The new season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 26.

Nico Rosberg of Mercedes during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016
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TeamPoints
1Mercedes161
2Ferrari153
3Red Bull72
4Force India53
5Toro Rosso21
6Williams-Mercedes18
7Renault14
8Haas9
9Sauber4
10McLaren0
DriversTeamPoints
1Sebastian VettelFerrari104
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes98
3Valtteri BottasMercedes63
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari49
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull37
6Max VerstappenRed Bull35
7Sergio PerezForce India34
8Esteban OconForce India19
9Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes18
10Carlos SainzToro Rosso17
11Nico HulkenbergRenault14
12Romain GrosjeanHaas5
13Kevin MagnussenHaas4
14Pascal WehrleinSauber4
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes0
17Marcus EricssonSauber0
18Jolyon PalmerRenault0
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
20Fernando AlonsoMcLaren0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0