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.

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.