Pascal Wehrlein says he would be ready to race for Mercedes in 2017, should an opening develop.
Wehrlein was drafted in last night to run on the second and final day of the post-Spanish Grand Prix, replacing Esteban Ocon. Mercedes said the decision came about as it had decided to run a new programme and needed a more experience driver, but with rumours this week claiming Nico Rosberg could switch to the Scuderia next year, replacing Kimi Raikkonen, it has added another dimension to the silly season speculation, especially after what happened at the start in Spain, when the two Mercedes drivers clashed.
“Yes I would be ready [if Nico doesn't stay at Mercedes in 2017],” Wehrlein replied.
Asked if he felt like it was a bit of an audition, he added: “You always are, you cannot relax, step back, hope or be sure of what happens next year or the next years so you always need to push, always need to push yourself and make the best out of it."
Meanwhile, Wehrlein confirmed he didn't get the call-up until 8pm last night: “Yeah it was around 8 o'clock, so I had to come back to the race track, do the seat fit and it was quite late yesterday. I think I left the track at 12.”
Pressed on if he knows the reasons for the change, he added: “I don't really know. I think yesterday they couldn't finish the test program and they wanted an experienced driver, so yesterday evening I got the call and went back to the race track, did the seat fit and was driving today.”
Wehrlein ended up doing 133 laps in total – the most of anyone runner – and was third quickest.
“It was very, very good day. We did many laps, more than 130 laps, I am really happy with that. We could finish the test program and it was a good time in the car. I really enjoyed it,” continued the Manor racer.
“We tried many things, I think you could see the whole morning we were running with the aero rake on the car, and even in the afternoon we tried a lot. We did some long runs, that's why we did so many laps so I think today was quite important.
“The morning was more aerodynamic that's why we had many measurements on the car in the morning, but then in the afternoon it was also setup work.”