How Will Pascal's Future Play Out?
Well, after a month of considerations and rumors… Sauber has decided to ditch their Ferrari partnership again and now jumping ship to Honda. The Hinwill team will join the Japanese manufacture as their second engine customers alongside McLaren. It looks like a win-win situation for both parties except you are this guy: Pascal Wehrlein.
As you might have known Pascal is part of the Mercedes’s young drivers program and has been signed by Sauber in a deal reached between the Silver Arrows and the Swiss team to put the young German in the seat after the demise of Manor Racing. With Pascal on board, Mercedes was also expected to join Sauber as their engine partner if Pascal indeed stays for next season. Apparently after the Sauber-Honda deal, the plan has now changed and Wehrlein might be on the move again.
Pascal will probably race for his third team in his three seasons in Formula One, but there are news about his pass relationship with both Force India (when he was a test driver) and Manor about his attitude and raised red flags to Mercedes which would indicated why the German outfit didn’t put him in place of Rosberg after the champion’s surprising retirement announcement. This year looks like a much better change for Pascal with Sauber praising him of his approach to the team, but still it might deny him of a seat next year in another team and forced to find refuge in other racing categories. Well now, what are Pascal’s possible options?
A JUMP TO WILLIAMS RACING
After Massa’s “retirement” announcement last year, speculations were mounting on who would originally partner Valtteri Bottas at Williams. Pascal was one the top prospect to replace the departing Brazilian with his status as a Mercedes’s junior driver. Unfortunately he was denied by young Canadian sensation Lance Stroll.
When Rosberg announcing his retirement at the end of the year, Wehrlein again was under the spotlight with various newsletters considering he would either land the seat at Mercedes or take the other seat at Williams when Bottas left Groove team to join the Silver Arrows. Valtteri indeed joins Mercedes but Pascal again was denied of a chance to drive for Williams when it was discovered Massa would be coming back for a year after Williams persuaded him to be back.
Well, it might not be all over for the young German. With Massa will officially retire from the sport after this season, it might be third times the charm for young Pascal. The Silver Arrows still plans to develop him for a future seat so it might be on Toto Wolff’s hands to decide. But it might not an easy fight, Carlos Sainz is Wehrlein’s biggest rival for the second seat. Sainz might be moving out of Toro Rosso because of the situation at Red Bull so might be an interesting between the two.
Williams is the best destination for Pascal but if this doesn't materialized, what else?
STAYING BACK AT SAUBER
Now, Pascal is in a tough situation at Sauber. With Honda coming to supply engines for the team next year, Wehrlein could lose his seat in the team. Well, Honda has its own driver’s academy with Nobuharu Matsushita leading the charge for the Japanese manufacture.
Honda might push Sauber to sign Matsushita with other benefits in place, but it will depend on the Japanese’s performance in this year F2 season. If he doesn’t get the 40 points baseline for the super-license requirements, Mercedes could jump in and work out another deal for Pascal in case the Williams plan is a dead end.
RETURNING TO MERCEDES FOR...
This is the worst case scenario for Wehrlein. If he doesn’t get any full time seat for next year, coming back for Mercedes is a safe option and there are four possibilities for Pascal’s returning for the German marque. Coming back as a third driver for Mercedes isn’t a bad idea but it will limit his time on the track and denying him of reaching further.
Still, Mercedes will have other plans. The Silver Arrows has already reached an agreement for the German team to join Formula E with options to compete for the next season. Mercedes can use Pascal’s experience as the team launchpad to compete with other teams. As Formula E has demonstrated, it’s a great place for former Formula One drivers with Buemi, Piquet Jr, Di Grassi, Vergne are notable names that have race in the series.
Endurance racing isn’t a bad idea either. Mercedes has a global network in GT racing and reached an incredible amount of success with the SLS AMG GT3 and now the AMG GT being a front runner in the GT3 battles. Racing in LMP2 is also a huge chance for Pascal to show his potential and proves to be a good hunting ground as well for former Formula One drivers.
DTM isn’t a bad idea for Wehrlein and like Di Resta, he might again thrive in homeland. The series that launched him into being on of the top prospect of Formula One.
ON HIS OWN
Although Pascal is still in the Mercedes’s driver programs, the German team is more interested in developing Esteban Ocon than Pascal. With Force India’s decision to take the Frenchman, it seems clear Mercedes is starting to lose interests in Wehrlein and with his career now stuck in a dead end. Pascal needs a drastic change, and breaking up with Mercedes might be the only option.
Wehrlein will be on his own but he will have more freedom in his career choice and much more options to choose from, it will be a massive gamble so it might be the least likely scenario to happen. Although a move to Renault might be the most logical option, but it will be hard to see Pascal getting the seat. With fights for the seat to replace the “might be” outgoing Jolyon Palmer including Sergey Sirotkin, Carlos Sainz Jr and possibly Sergio Perez as well.
It will be interesting how will Pascal and Mercedes will handle the situation and might be one of the biggest story for the next season’s silly season.