Wehrlein: It was Bottas or me for Mercedes

Jon Wilde
Valtteri Bottas and Pascal Wehrlein

Valtteri Bottas and Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein has reflected on what he claims was a straight fight between he and Valtteri Bottas for a Mercedes seat after Nico Rosberg retired.

Mercedes had to find a replacement for Rosberg after his sudden departure from Formula 1 straight after capturing the World Championship title in late November 2016.

That left three months to find a new team-mate for Lewis Hamilton and integrate them before the start of pre-season testing, with Wehrlein a contender having been a Mercedes reserve driver, won the 2015 DTM series for them and shown promise in one full year of F1 racing with Manor.

But ultimately, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff chose to lure Bottas from Williams and the rest is history, with the Finn having won nine races so far during his four years with the team and helped them to constructors’ World Championship crowns in each of those campaigns.

Wehrlein, meanwhile, joined Sauber for 2017 but scored only five points and then dropped out of Formula 1, subsequently having another season of DTM and one-and-a-half in Formula E having left the Mahindra team midway through the latest campaign.

He has been confirmed as a Porsche driver in Formula E for 2021 and is due to make his debut for them at the double-header that starts the season in Santiago, Chile, on January 16-17.

Pascal Wehrlein feels like a 'real racing driver'

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The 26-year-old German has confirmed it was his lack of experience compared to Bottas that meant he missed out at Mercedes four years ago. At the time, Bottas had been in F1 for four years and achieved seven podium finishes.

“Back then, a decision was made between Bottas and me,” Wehrlein told Speedweek. “In the end, Bottas won the bid.

“The reason was that I had only been driving in Formula 1 for a year at the time. Because of this, I had relatively little experience.

“Still, I would say it was a very good year. Manor was a team that had very little money and resources and couldn’t race a year later. We did a really great job and even scored points [10th at the Austrian Grand Prix].

“It was a good year, but one year of experience in Formula 1 isn’t much.”

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