Manor's new engine deal does not guarantee Pascal Wehrlein a race seat with the British backmarker. That is the claim of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who recently signed off the deal to supply the German marque's title-winning 'power unit' to Manor next year. Many believe it is a sure sign that Mercedes' F1 reserve Pascal Wehrlein, who is on the cusp of winning the DTM series, will make his grand prix debut in 2016.
"At the conclusion of the engine contract the subject of drivers was indeed a point of discussion, but it is not part of the contract," Wolff told DPA news agency. Indeed, at least four drivers are clamouring for Manor's two race seats, including incumbents Will Stevens, Alexander Rossi and Roberto Merhi. Wolff added: "With a Mercedes engine and Williams technology as well, Manor now has a valuable cockpit to sell. We have not yet completed the discussion about Pascal. It is important that he completes the last weekend of DTM well and without mistakes, then we will discuss what options are available for him. But it's not just about Manor. There are other options in F1," added Wolff.
Manor deputy Graeme Lowdon at Sochi said the driver question for 2016 remains "completely open". "It's not easy for any driver to get into formula one at the minute and there are some quite good drivers looking to do that but also the grid is pretty full at the moment," he said. "Decisions on drivers for us will come much later in the season." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing