There’s a part of Gerhard Berger’s comments that I find myself agreeing with if I’m honest. Last year I was not as convinced that Valtteri Bottas was as mega as many in the press were suggesting. I rate Valtteri for sure, he’s a truly gifted driver but I was having difficulty calculating the heaping of praise on him with the fact that he wasn’t blowing his teammate, Felipe Massa, into the weeds. If he was as good as everyone was suggesting, surely he could tackle Massa?
To be fair, he did manage to handle Massa las year but not by a country mile. As Berger admits, Bottas would be a safer bet for Mercedes but I’m of like mind in that Mercedes has a young driver program for a reason. If their drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon, are good enough for their program, are they not ready for primetime or are there other issues?
Many consider Ocon to be a rare talent and he’d only had a handful of race in F1 last season replacing Rio Haryanto. If Ocon wasn’t ready to make the leap to Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, surely Wehrlein was ready having spent a year in F1?
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to have a young driver program if you never consider the drivers in it as serious options for your team.
“In comparison to Bottas, Wehrlein is a risk, for sure,” Berger said.
“Therefore, maybe the clever solution is not the one that springs to mind first and foremost.
“I hold Bottas in high esteem. He’s quick, a good team player, a nice person and he has earned the chance to prove himself.
“On the other hand he didn’t destroy Massa enough for us to be saying, ‘he’s the right choice.”
Berger says he would have taken Pascal to underline the Mercedes young driver program and I agree with him. Lewis is your champion, he’s your serious contender for anything the grid has to give and will take on any competitors. Why not vet Pascal as he’s been in the series and surely has earned a shot?
“I would have taken Wehrlein to underline my own young driver programme,” Berger told Auto Motor und Sport.
“Wehrlein always left a convincing impression in this programme.
“You will only see how good he really is when you put him in a top car.”
I agree. Is it a slight risk? Sure, but Lewis is a sure bet. The biggest question team boss Toto Wolff must have been asking is, can Pascal finish on Lewis’s tail and score the points that Nico Rosberg did ensuring the Constructor’s title? To be fair, maybe not and perhaps that’s the reason Pascal or Esteban are not an option yet.
Hat Tip: Autosport