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
1Mercedes250
2Ferrari226
3Red Bull137
4Force India79
5Williams-Mercedes37
6Toro Rosso33
7Haas21
8Renault18
9Sauber5
10McLaren2
DriversTeamPoints
1Sebastian VettelFerrari153
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes139
3Valtteri BottasMercedes111
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull92
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari73
6Max VerstappenRed Bull45
7Sergio PerezForce India44
8Esteban OconForce India35
9Carlos SainzToro Rosso29
10Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes20
11Nico HulkenbergRenault18
12Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes17
13Kevin MagnussenHaas11
14Romain GrosjeanHaas10
15Pascal WehrleinSauber5
16Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren2
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
19Jolyon PalmerRenault0
20Marcus EricssonSauber0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0
22Jenson ButtonMcLaren0
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