Wehrlein wants answers after missing out on 2017 Force India F1 seat

© Getty Images
1 Comment

Pascal Wehrlein is keen to learn why he lost out to fellow Mercedes junior driver Esteban Ocon in the race to secure a seat with Force India in Formula 1 for the 2017 season.

Wehrlein made his F1 debut at the beginning of the year with Manor, arriving at the team as part of a deal that saw Mercedes become its power unit supplier.

Wehrlein scored just the second top-10 finish in Manor’s seven-season run in F1 at the Austrian Grand Prix in July, and had been linked with a move up to Force India for 2017.

However, Force India has decided to go with Ocon, who only made his F1 debut in August with Manor and has not been a Mercedes junior for as long as Wehrlein.

Wehrlein made no secret of his disappointment when speaking to reporters in Brazil on Thursday, saying that he wanted to find out why he missed out on the seat, but is happy to remain with Manor for 2017.

“Of course, on one side I am disappointed, but I have said in the last weeks if I can stay with [Manor], it’s still the same,” Wehrlein said, as quoted by F1i.

“Toto [Wolff, Mercedes’ F1 chief] called me. He said that Force India chose Esteban and that is their decision. I don’t know if it was the test [Ocon had with Force India in 2015] and if it was decided by something else.

“I will ask why or what happened, or what can I improve from my side. Otherwise, with the performance on track, I am quite happy.

“It is not the end of the world. It is a missed opportunity, but not the end of the world.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.