Why Wehrlein’s testing call-up suggests Mercedes are under pressure

Mercedes’ Barcelona test schedule has been modified ahead of the second day’s running, as reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein has replaced Esteban Ocon, who was billed to get his first outing for the Silver Arrows on Wednesday. Mercedes have cited the fact that they wanted a “driver with race experience” to complete a programme which involves testing of development parts.

The late change is a rather telling move by the reigning champions.

Pascal Wehrlein



Haryanto completes 2016 grid

It’s been F1’s worst kept secret this winter. Rio Haryanto will make his debut in Melbourne, as he has scooped up the final seat on the 2016 grid, easing Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi out of their seats at Manor. The Indonesian brings significant sponsorship money to the table and therefore, faces a fight to hold off the pay driver tag. With three GP2 victories to his name, he certainly has potential.


Image Credit: Jake Archibald (via Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0]


Wehrlein to drive Manor forward

Former Mercedes reserve driver and 2015 DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein will make his F1 debut in Melbourne, as he is about to embark on a maiden campaign at Manor Racing. The minnows, who escaped the clutches of administration as Marussia at the end of 2014, are looking to move up the grid this season. With Wehrlein’s talent pairing with what has become a strong and experienced team of engineers, Manor are well equipped for a marked improvement.


Image Credit: Smudge 9000 (via Flickr) [CC-BY-NC-2.0]


Austria In-Season Test: Day 1 Analysis

As teams and drivers woke up to grey skies this morning, the outlook did not suggest a productive day was imminent. On the basis of a morning in which just two installation laps were completed before a rain-induced red flag ran into lunch, this forecast seemed to be coming to fruition. However, as the rain abated in the afternoon, condensed programmes saw the smattering of fans in Spielberg entertained, as teams completed substantial mileage this afternoon, aided by a two hour extension to the session. Pascal Wehrlein topped the timesheet in the W06 Mercedes.

IST2 Day 1 Mileage


Abu Dhabi Test: Day 2

More McLaren Woes While Wehrlein Impresses

The Abu Dhabi test was always going to be a bonus for McLaren – some quality time for the engineers to get to know their shiny new Honda-powertrain. Ultimately, mileage has been severely limited but for the aforementioned reasons, McLaren seem unperturbed. Elsewhere, Mercedes’ reserve youngster, Pascal Wehrlein, received his first public opportunity in a F1 car and had the privilege of taking the all-conquering W05 to the track for its final day of running.

Keep Calm…

While five laps is the most modest of modest totals after two days of testing, Honda are not about to panic just yet. This test was aimed at ironing out the initial issues which inevitably plague such a complex powertrain when it comes out of the box. It is better to have electrical gremlins now than when winter testing commences in February. Ultimately, any running completed in the MP4-29 would not be totally representative anyway, on the basis that the powertrain is not a fully integrated part Рmerely strapped onto a car which has been built with a Mercedes unit in mind. 
The man who will likely be most disappointed by completing just two laps today will be Stoffel Vandoorne. With a McLaren seat up for grabs, I imagine the Belgian youngster would have been chomping at the bit to hit the track and demonstrate the extent of his talents. However, I doubt that the decision to run Vandoorne across the past two days was motivated by the fact that McLaren need to assess his potential Рthey could not have anticipated to have the car clocking enough mileage to allow Stoffel an opportunity to impress anyway. 
Honda will have learnt a lot from the past two days. McLaren engineers now have an understanding of the operational rubric which will stand them in good stead to hit the ground running in Jerez. More mileage would have been welcomed, but it was by no means a necessity. Alarm bells will only start ringing if the first two days in Jerez yield a similar lack of ‘lappage’.

Pascal Wehrlein

A name which many F1 fans were unfamiliar with prior to his appearance in Singapore as the newly appointed reserve driver at the Brackley based outfit. 20-year-old Wehrlein would most certainly be known by fans of DTM, as he made headlines and broke records by becoming the youngest ever race winner, earlier in the campaign. Clearly, he has future superstar potential and Mercedes have recognised this. His first chance in a public F1 test came today and while testing timesheets are famously unrepresentative, Wehrlein placed his name on top of the pile, which rightly or wrongly, attracts attention.
What a fitting way for the W05 to return to the garage for the final time of its working life. It has been a car which has rewritten many parts of the record books – most wins in a season is one of the most notable achievements, as its 16 triumphs overhauled the mighty McLaren-Honda MP4/4, a car driven by Prost and Senna no less. Mercedes’ dominance has been spellbinding this season and as the W05 heads into retirement, I am sure that it will be pounding around a track for old-times-sake again soon and for many years to come.

Final Run

The Mr.Mileage Award Goes To…
Marcus Ericsson 
Sauber’s new recruit completed his second day behind the wheel of his new office and certainly had plenty of time to become accustomed to the stationary, clocking 112 laps – not quite eclipsing Rosberg’s 114 lap benchmark set yesterday, but certainly a promising total for a Sauber team looking to recover from their worst season EVER.

1 Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 96 laps.
2 Raffaele Marciello Ferrari 91 laps.
3 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 78 laps.
4 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 112 laps.
5 Will Stevens Caterham 76 laps.
6 Spike Goddard Force India 89 laps.
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 88 laps.
8 Felipe Nasr Williams 83 laps.
9 Alex Lynn Lotus 52 laps.
10 Esteban Ocon Lotus 34 laps.

11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 2 laps.