Pascal Wehrlein settles for 'patience' over top Formula 1 seat

Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Manor poses for a portrait during day one of F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on March 1, 2016
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Pascal Wehrlein says that Mercedes did not sign him up for 2017 in order to safeguard the longevity of his F1 career.

Pascal Wehrlein has said that Mercedes did not sign him up for 2017 in order to safeguard the longevity of his Formula 1 career.

German Wehrlein, 22, is the senior member of Mercedes's driver development programme and was therefore a favourite when Nico Rosberg announced his shock decision to quit F1 late last year.

Ultimately, the older and more experienced Toto Wolff-linked driver Valtteri Bottas was signed up for 2017, on a mere single-season contract.

"Toto told me he didn't want to burn me," Wehrlein told Germany's Sport Bild.

"He said they still believe in me and that I should instead build myself up in peace. Of course I hoped for a change to the world champion team, but when Mercedes went for Bottas, I wasn't too disappointed.

"Why? Because my original 'plan A' was still fulfilled."

That 'plan A' was the 2017 move from the backmarker Manor to Sauber, a more established midfield team.

However, winter testing has shown that, after almost collapsing last year and now set to use Ferrari's 2016-spec engine this year, Sauber will almost certainly be F1's new backmarker in 2017.

Still, Wehrlein is happy, saying: "Sauber is at the beginning of an era. There is enormous potential in the team and I am proud to be a part of this building back up. We have a highly professional, international team."

For instance, Wehrlein said that he was blown away by Sauber's state of the art wind tunnel at Hinwil, adding: "As I said, I think there is huge potential in the team.

"But we will have to have a little patience."

The 2017 championship kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix next Sunday.

Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Manor poses for a portrait during day one of F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on March 1, 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
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