When Nico Rosberg, winner of the 2016 championship, retired from Formula One last year, he vacated one, if not the, most desirable seats in racing.
German Pascal Wehrlein, who is 22-years-old from Sigmaringen, Baden-Württemberg had reasonable expectations that the seat was his for the taking; after all he was contracted to Mercedes on a young driver contract.
Unfortunately for Wehrlein, Mercedes opted for veteran Finnish racing driver Valtteri Bottas to partner Lewis Hamilton for the forthcoming Formula One season.
Mercedes approached Bottas from Williams, with Felipe Massa coming out of retirement to become the replacement for the outgoing Finn.
Speaking to ESPN, Wehrlein defined why he was not picked for this season, and why Toto Wolff and co. went with Bottas instead.
He said: “Toto [Wolff, Mercedes boss] explained he thought it would be good to have more experience, one year is not enough, especially as second year drivers are always making big progress.
"I think Mercedes wants to have a ready and perfect driver and at their limit -- at the moment I am not at my limit. I could be with experience that is clear.”
Wehrlein eventually signed with Swiss racing team Sauber, founded by Peter Sauber in the 1970’s, to gain more experience at the back of the grid.
However, Sauber does not possess the same auspicious track record as the Formula One giants.
The Swiss team have never won a Formula One championship and have only chalked up one race victory and 27 podium finishes. Sauber also finished 10th in the 2016 championship, winning a meagre two points.
However, as Valtteri Bottas is only contracted with Mercedes for one year, it leaves the possibility that Wehrlein could hypothetically be racing with Mercedes from 2018 onwards.
Despite a potential future with Mercedes, Wehrlein is very much focused on racing for Sauber at the moment, telling ESPN: “I don't know. I'm focusing on this year. I am a Sauber driver and I want to do the maximum I can do in this team, this year. Then let's see what happens next year. It could be anything."
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