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Pascal Wehrlein: "I definitely feel I'm ready for Mercedes F1 race seat"

Pascal Wehrlein believes he is ready to step up to race for the Mercedes Formula 1 team as a replacement for Nico Rosberg.

Pascal Wehrlein: "I definitely feel I'm ready for Mercedes F1 race seat"

Pascal Wehrlein believes he is ready to step up to race for the Mercedes Formula 1 team as a replacement for Nico Rosberg.

The slot at the triple world champion Mercedes squad opened up after Rosberg shocked F1 by announcing his retirement just five days after he was clinched the world title at the 2016 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Since the German racer revealed his decision ahead of the FIA prize giving gala in Vienna, much of the focus has been on which driver Mercedes will sign to partner Lewis Hamilton in 2017.

Nico Rosberg

Speaking at the Autosport awards last night, Wehrlein, who won the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award at the event in London, outlined his belief that he could perform for Mercedes after a single season racing in F1 for the Manor team.

He said: "Of course one season in Formula 1 is not a lot but I learned all the tracks now and I learned how the tyres are working. I feel like I've had a strong season and I'm ready to make the step up.

"There is still a lot to learn for me but I'm happy with the progress I'm making. It's important for me to know I'm not on my limit now. I haven't reached my limit – there is still a lot of time coming. After this year, I definitely feel I'm ready."

Pascal Wehrlein

The 22-year-old scored Manor’s only point of 2016 when he finished tenth at the Austrian Grand Prix, and he also shone in qualifying for the British team by making it through to Q2 on five occasions during his rookie campaign.

Wehrlein revealed that he had spoken to Mercedes’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff about the possibility of signing for the manufacturer’s works team, but he does not yet know when the squad will make a decision.

He said: "There is no news at the moment, but as expected every driver is calling him. Everyone wants to grab this unbelievable opportunity to join the Mercedes team.

"I understand they want to go for the best option, that they want to have a bit more time, or the time they need to decide which one they think will be the best one for the team."

Toto Wolff Pascal Wehrlein

Wehrlein, who won the 2015 DTM title before moving to Manor, is part of Mercedes’ young driver programme, but despite that close link he explained that he would not be pestering Wolff about Rosberg’s vacant seat for fear of harming his chances.

He said: "The team knows I would love to drive for them, the tests I did were great. I cannot call them every day to say ,'what's happening?' I don't want to be annoying.

"I'm there if they think I'm the right person for the team. I will do whatever I have to do and whatever is necessary to deliver. I just have to wait now."

Pascal Wehrlein

Wehrlein acknowledged that he would not be the most experienced candidate in F1 that could potentially join Mercedes, but he referenced the work he has done for the team on Pirelli’s new-for-2017 tyres, a factor that he believes could work in his favour.

He said: "One season in F1 is not a lot but I feel ready for the job and confident. I'm sure Toto's phone is overheating after Friday.

"I've done most days with the 2017 tyres and I think it's very important to have that experience."

The results of a poll of JAonF1 readers that was included in the news of Rosberg’s retirement last week revealed that 1,422 out of 7,648 people who took part thought Wehrlein was the most likely contender to replace the world champion, which is 18.59 per cent of the total vote.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-10-02

That is some way behind the 3,069 people who thought Mercedes would pick McLaren driver Fernando Alonso (40.13 per cent), but ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas’ 1,248 votes (16.32 per cent).

What do you make of Wehrlein’s comments? Do you think he will move to Mercedes for 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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