JUNIO RCH OICE :W HILE OCON FLOURISHES, WEHRLEIN FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
ESTEBAN OCON’S FELLOW MERCEDES JUNIOR Pascal Wehrlein capped a nim pressive F1 debut season with Manor in 2016 byw inning the
Rooki eoft he Year pri zeatt he Autosport Awards. Sauber was supposed to be the next step on the road to a dri veatt he Mercedes works team. B utad ifficul tcarw ith a year-old Ferrari engine made life tricky for both the German and his team-mate Marcus Ericsson this season.
Wehrlein scored all the team’s poin ts– with eight hins pain and 10t hina zerbaijan– but h efa iled to comfortably outperform
Ericsso nin the way it was hoped. His ‘supertime’ – his fastest lap from any session overa grand prix weeken dco nverted to a percentag e,w ith 100% representing the outright fastest – was just 0.013% better than the Swede’s.
Meanwhile, his former team-mate Ocon excelled at Force Indi a,a lthou ghh e had a stronger packag eu nderneath him.
Wehrlein says he’s happy wit hhis performance. “I scored all th epo ints for the team ,w hic hi st he most importan tt hing. Qualifying is good, I’m ahead of Marcus in the head-to-head. I’ mh appy wit hh owt he seaso nh as gone, especiall yasimi ssed two races an da l otofw inter testing [because of injury], so th ef irst few races back were a learning process for me.”
But Sauber’s new partnershi pw it hf errari/ Alfa Romeo has made life more challenging for Wehrlein. Ferrar ij uni ora nd Formul a2c hampion Charles Leclerc and Ericsson were confirmed as 2018 Sauber drivers last weekend.
That could leave Wehrlein in the F1 wilderness. Williams i sbe lieved to be interested, but Wehrle ini s n otatt h etopoft he li stt here. If he misses out on ap lace, h ew ill likely head back tot he DT M,w it hhi s future inf 1 hanging in th eba lance.
Wehrlein could get left out in the cold