Wehrlein not yet exploring options outside F1 for 2018

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Pascal Wehrlein says he is not yet exploring options outside of Formula 1 for 2018, and that he hopes to make progress with his future plans in the near future.

Mercedes youngster Wehrlein moved into F1 with Manor in 2016 before switching to Sauber for the current season, scoring all five of its points through 2017.

The German driver looks set to leave the team at the end of the year, though, after it signed an enhanced technical partnership with Ferrari for 2018 that should see Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc take a seat.

The team’s second drive looks to be between Antonio Giovinazzi and the incumbent Marcus Ericsson, leaving Wehrlein looking elsewhere for a role.

Williams seems to be the only possible place Wehrlein could land in F1 next year, although the team is also considering Paul di Resta and Robert Kubica as potential replacements for Felipe Massa, and questions also remain over a requirement from sponsor Martini to field a driver over the age of 25 alongside 18-year-old Lance Stroll.

Asked about his future on Thursday ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Wehrlein said that while he was yet to get any firm decisions made, he hoped progress could be made soon.

“No news yet on this side, but I hope there are some discussions going on for next year, and I hope we can fix something soon,” Wehrlein said.

“I have no deadline, no. The last two years it was always quite late.

“I just hope we can find something and sign a contract for next year and I would be happy.”

When asked if he was considering seats outside F1, Wehrlein said: “I’m not looking outside yet.”

Wehrlein has been linked with a possible return to DTM with Mercedes, with whom he won the title in 2015, after a seat was freed up by Robert Wickens following his switch to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Schimdt Peterson Motorsports for 2018.

While Mercedes will be leaving DTM at the end of next year, it could give Wehrlein an option to follow the German marque into Formula E from 2019 should he wish to keep an interest in single-seaters.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III