Germany is home to the most successful Formula 1 World Champion of all time: seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. But in Formula 1 World Champions Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg the quality of German racing drivers speaks a clear language as well. Pascal Wehrlein is another German joining the league of the country’s Formula 1 drivers. In 2016, his debut season, the 22-year-old contested his first season with the Manor Racing MRT team and definitely caused some surprises. 10th place in the Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg was one of them. “I’m very pleased with my first season. I dare say that my expectations as well as those of others were surpassed,” Wehrlein says in retrospect. In addition to the points he scored, the native of Sigmaringen made it into Q2 – the second qualifying session – five times. “It was a year of learning from which I took a lot home for the future.” 2017 sees Wehrlein pursuing new paths in Formula 1 – together with the Sauber F1 Team: a new challenge in a new team. “I’m very happy to be on the grid for the Sauber F1 Team this season.” Wehrlein is also very clear about the direction in which he and the team are headed. “Our goal is to establish ourselves as a team in mid-field and to regularly score points.” A young man with big aims: ambitious, fast and determined – ever since his childhood days.
It all started in front of a television set, watching Formula 1 together with his father, Richard. “In 2001 we had our first live experience of a Formula 1 race at Hockenheim. That’s when I immediately knew that I’d like to be a Formula 1 driver someday.” No sooner said than done! But it was not quite as simple as that. Like almost every racing driver he made his first driving attempts in a kart. “I kept getting on my dad’s nerves until he finally let me drive a kart,” Wehrlein says with a smile. It was not long before the indoor karts for hire became too slow for him, so Wehrlein got to enjoy faster ones on an outdoor kart circuit. And he instantly did well. So well, in fact, that Wehrlein in 2004 contested the German Kart Championship and just a year later finished in third place overall.
Switching to single-seater racing went smoothly too and saw him win one talent promotion programme after the other. At age 15, Wehrlein switched to the ADAC Formel Masters series and went on to win it a year later. Wehrlein recognised early that talent alone is not enough to make it into motorsport’s top category, so he decided to present himself to Mercedes. “I presented myself there at the time and told the officials that I’d like to race with Mercedes engines in the coming Formula 3 season,” says Wehrlein. His wish came true, his previous results having spoken in his favour. As a Mercedes Junior his string of success continued in the Formula 3 Euro Series, in the Formula 3 European Championship and at the F3 Macau Grand Prix in 2012. As a reward, the Formula 3 Euro Series runner-up got to continue his career by participating in his first DTM test at Portimao/Portugal. Wehrlein was actually supposed to contest another Formula 3 Euro Serie season, but there was an unexpected turn of events.
Following Ralf Schumacher’s retirement from the DTM, a cockpit was suddenly vacant in 2013. Things then happened at a fast pace and Pascal Wehrlein was the youngest rookie to compete in the DTM. But a switch from single-seater to touring car racing should not be underestimated. “It did take me some time to get used to it. In a single seater you develop a totally different feel for driving. A touring car behaves differently, not least due to its higher weight or braking behaviour, plus you have less downforce,” Wehrlein explains. Still, Wehrlein managed to break a few records in the following years: In 2014 he achieved his first race victory, making him the youngest DTM race winner of all time. Thanks to this premiere win Wehrlein, in the middle of 2014, was promoted to the rank of a Formula 1 reserve driver at Mercedes. Then, in 2015, he went down in the series’ history as DTM Champion. “I’m very thankful to Mercedes for their support. Obviously, my performances had to be right and it was clear to me that I’d have to get used to the DTM car quickly in order to have a chance of getting into Formula 1.” And that, too, worked out according to his wishes: with his Formula 1 rookie year at Manor in 2016.
F1 stats prior to the 2017 season
|First GP||Australia 2016|
|Best race result||10th Austria (2016)|
|Date/place of birth||18th October 1994 / Sigmaringen (Germany)|
|Height / weight||1.75 m / 63 kg|
|Hobbies||Football, Mountainbiking, Swimming, Gym, Friends|
|Favourite drink||Apple juice|
|Favourite music||Hip Hop|
|Languages||German, English, French|
|2016||19th FIA Formula One Championship (Manor Racing MRT)|
|2012||F3 Euro Serie, 2nd overall, best rookie
FIA Formula 3 European Championship, 4th
F3 Macau Grand Prix, 4th
|2011||ADAC Formel Masters, winner|
|2010||ADAC Formel Masters, 6th|
|2004 – 2009||Karting,
2009 DMV Karting Championship, winner
2009 ADAC Kart Masters, 5th
2009 Winner of ADAC Formel Masters Young Talent
2007 DMV karter of the year
2006 DMV karter of the year