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
1Mercedes357
2Ferrari318
3Red Bull184
4Force India101
5Williams-Mercedes41
6Toro Rosso39
7Haas29
8Renault26
9McLaren11
10Sauber5
DriversTeamPoints
1Sebastian VettelFerrari202
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes188
3Valtteri BottasMercedes169
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull117
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari116
6Max VerstappenRed Bull67
7Sergio PerezForce India56
8Esteban OconForce India45
9Carlos SainzToro Rosso35
10Nico HulkenbergRenault26
11Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes23
12Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes18
13Romain GrosjeanHaas18
14Kevin MagnussenHaas11
15Fernando AlonsoMcLaren10
16Pascal WehrleinSauber5
17Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1
19Marcus EricssonSauber0
20Jolyon PalmerRenault0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0
22Jenson ButtonMcLaren0
23Paul di RestaWilliams-Mercedes0