F1 2016 Driver Review: Pascal Wehrlein

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Pascal Wehrlein

Team: Manor
Car No.: 94
Races: 21
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 10th (Austria)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 1
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 19th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Great things were expected of Pascal Wehrlein during his debut Formula 1 season, having tested extensively for Mercedes in the past and won the DTM title in 2015 at the age of 20.

Wehrlein did light things up on occasion for Manor, with the Mercedes power unit making the MRT05 car a rocket ship in a straight line. The German reached Q2 on sixth occasions, and scored just the second point of Manor’s seven-season history in Austria, nicking 10th late on in a race of attrition.

But Wehrlein failed to blow the doors off teammates Rio Haryanto or Esteban Ocon as expected. Uncertainty regarding his ability and attitude prompted Force India to pass over Wehrlein and pick Ocon for a 2017 season, leaving Wehrlein in the lurch.

Right now, a return to Manor seems the most likely option, where Wehrlein will look to wipe the floor with whoever his teammate may be and prove he can be a solid grand prix racer.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Numerous Q2 appearances and a 10th place in Austria were the highlights for the young German with rather neat hair and almost too perfect eyebrows, yet somehow despite those achievements it felt like Pascal Wehrlein wasn’t quite as dynamic as he needed to be.

For one, he didn’t blow the lesser-rated Rio Haryanto into the weeds as he should have. And secondly, once Esteban Ocon came in in the second half of the year, Wehrlein didn’t seem to raise his game to match except in Abu Dhabi. Ocon’s near-points drive at Brazil could have netted multiple points. And it also spoke volumes that Ocon immediately got the Force India drive vacated by Nico Hulkenberg.

A promotion to Mercedes next year for Wehrlein isn’t necessarily guaranteed, and it’d be a quantum leap in terms of the car at his disposal and the expectations required. It also would have the potential to damage his career long-term if he can’t measure up. Weird times lie ahead for the good, but not yet great, young driver.