With Valterri Bottas emerging as the favorite for the second seat at AMG Mercedes, it leaves Mercedes prodigy Pascal Wehrlein looking for a seat in 2017. The talented Wehrlein will have a seat in 2017, but where?
With Wehrlein being a Mercedes driver, it will be a team using Mercedes power units. For 2017 the teams under Mercedes power are AMG Mercedes, Force India, Williams Martini, Sauber F1, and Manor Racing Team. Mercedes looks to be going with the more experienced Bottas and Force India passed on Wehrlein for Esteban Ocon. This leaves the teams currently searching.
Martini Williams Racing- Historic Williams F1 will be going through a transition in the 2017 season. Valterri Bottas is more than likely leaving for Mercedes, leaving Felipe Massa to come out of retirement to take his seat. Williams has signed 17 year old Lance Stroll as its second driver.
Williams is a team the prides itself on experience, talent, speed and championships. Anything short is considered disappointing to the team. Wehrlein fits the mold for talent and speed, but with only one full season under his belt lacks experience to help develop the car. After a disappointing 2016, Williams will need the experienced Massa to help young Stroll grow as a driver.
Sauber F1- Sauber is under new ownership for the 2017 season. The Swedish outfit scored two points in the 2016 season, finishing 10th in the constructors championship. Marcus Ericsson has already been signed for 2017. Felipe Nasr hasn’t been resigned due to sponsorship troubles.
Sauber is in desperate need of a driver with Wehrlein’s talent. Sauber is need of a consistent driver that can regularly drive an inferior car into Q2, a feat which Wehrlein accomplished in four of the last nine races for Manor in 2016. Making it into Q2 puts you in position to score points and in Formula 1 more points equals more funding. Signing Wehrlein would be a win win situation for Sauber, a talented driver and financial help from Mercedes. What’s not to like about this pairing?
Manor Racing Team- Manor has no drivers signed for the 2017 season. The team scored one point in 2016, Wehrlein’s 10th place at Austria, and finished 11th in the constructors championship. Esteban Ocon has moved to Force India and Wehrlein is looking to move up as well.
If Sauber needs finances, magnify it for Manor. The team has had three owners in six seasons. Because of this the team is forced to sign drivers who bring there own sponsorship dollars. This doesn’t always equate to the best talent, but it has helped the team. I’m 2016, as part of signing Wehrlein, Manor was allowed to use the wind tunnel at Mercedes. This allowed the team to have a more competitive car. Manor has always been a team that takes chances on rookie drivers and with Jordan King as a reserve driver, I believe he will get one of the seats.
There is a rumor floating around the F1 world that Manor is in talks to be purchased by KFC Indonesia. If the rumors are true and the deal goes through it would be a game changer for the team. It would most likely mean that Indonesian drivers Rio Haryanto and Sean Gelael. With so much uncertainty for the future of Manor, it is unlikely that Wehrlein will be here in 2017.
Final Verdict- Wehrlein to Sauber in 2017