Ex-driver snubbed by Mercedes for Bottas opens up on death of F1 dream

Spectacular crash between Button and Wehrlein at Monaco GP

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Former F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein has opened up about his brief two-year stint in the sport, with his career coming to an end at the age of just 23.

Wehrlein was considered a promising prospect when he made his F1 debut as a 21-year-old back in 2016, joining Manor. That year, he earned Manor’s solitary point of the season with a tenth placed finish in the Austrian Grand Prix and says he was even considered by Mercedes as Nico Rosberg’s replacement following his shock retirement after winning the F1 world title.

Instead, Valtteri Bottas was picked as Rosberg’s successor and Wehrlein moved to Sauber after Manor went into administration. Despite once again scoring all of Sauber’s points that year, Wehrlein was replaced by Charles Leclerc and has not raced for an F1 team since.

“In the first year, when I lost the seat [with Manor] it was not in my control,” he recalled in an interview with the Daily Star. “The team went bankrupt.

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“In my second year with Sauber I scored all the points but still did not get the seat the following year. That is just what life is sometimes. I accepted it.

“I was not too disappointed in the end. I think the performance was there but I never had a car that was super competitive and I was never able to consistently score points.”

Reflecting on missing out to Bottas, Wehrlein admitted in a 2020 interview with Speedweek that his lack of experience counted against him. “Back then, a decision was made between Bottas and me,” he said.

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“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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