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"A new challenge" - Sauber signs Pascal Wehrlein for 2017 F1 season

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"A new challenge" - Sauber signs Pascal Wehrlein for 2017 F1 season
Jan 16, 2017, 12:39 PM

Pascal Wehrlein will race for the Sauber Formula 1 team during the 2017 season, it was announced today.

Pascal Wehrlein will race for the Sauber Formula 1 team during the 2017 season, it was announced today.

At the start of what is likely to be a busy week of F1 revelations – with Valtteri Bottas’ switch to Mercedes likely to be announced in the coming days along with news of Felipe Massa staying at Williams, Paddy Lowe joining the Grove-based squad and Liberty Media’s shareholders meeting in America to approve the takeover of F1 – Sauber confirmed it had signed Wehrlein, who raced for Manor in 2016.

The German driver scored Manor’s only point during his rookie campaign when he finished tenth at the Austrian Grand Prix. He will join Marcus Ericsson in Sauber’s line-up for 2017 in place of Felipe Nasr.

XPB.cc Pascal Wehrlein

Speaking as the news was announced, Sauber’s team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said: ““We are very pleased to confirm Pascal Wehrlein as our second race driver for the 2017 Formula 1 world championship.

“Pascal has shown his talent throughout his career – in single seater racing as well as in the DTM. Last year in his rookie Formula 1 season, he proved his potential by scoring one point in the Austrian GP in Spielberg.

“There is surely more to come from Pascal, and we want to give him the chance to further grow and learn at the pinnacle of motorsport. I am confident Marcus and Pascal will form a solid combination for 2017.”

Pascal Wehrlein Marcus Ericsson

Wehrlein, who is a Mercedes junior driver and was briefly in the frame to replace Nico Rosberg at the world champion squad, is aiming to score regular points finishes during his first year with Sauber.

He said: “I am very delighted at being a part of the Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming Formula 1 Season. It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure.

“Our objective is to establish ourselves in the midfield and to score points on a regular basis. That being said, I will do my best to support Sauber. Now I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the team and to tackling the preparations for the 2017 season.

“I want to say a big thank you to Sauber for trusting in me and giving me this great chance. And surely, a huge thanks also goes to Mercedes for the support.”

Mercedes Pascal Wehrlein 2016 Pirelli Test 01, Circuit Paul Ricard

While Wehrlein may be targeting regular points hauls, 2017 could well be another tough year for Sauber. It is understood that Pirelli has designed its new, wider tyres to work for the teams that can produce the highest levels of downforce and the smaller squads therefore may struggle to switch the rubber on.

But Wehrlein is the driver who racked up the most mileage on the new tyres, which may help him heading into 2017. The 22-year-old completed 3,248km for Mercedes during Pirelli’s development programme last year, which is 754km more than Pierre Gasly, who managed 2,494km for Red Bull. The nearest any other 2017 racer got to Wehrlein’s mark was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with 2,228km.

Wehrlein’s ninth place in Austria was his best result of the season and he also scored his highest grid spot of the season (12th) at the Red Bull Ring. He also won the 2015 DTM championship for Mercedes.

What do you make of the news that Wehrlein will join Sauber for 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Teams Sauber , McLaren Shop Now