Pascal Wehrlein says he is 'ready' to take on the challenge of joining Mercedes next season having emerged as the cautious favourite to replace Nico Rosberg in the title-winning team.
Rosberg's shock retirement just days after clinching his maiden F1 world title has caught many by surprise and has left Mercedes facing a dilemma over who to replace him with.
With every high profile driver contracted for the 2017 season, Mercedes' easiest option is to promote its junior driver Wehrlein – who is yet to have his plans finalised – from Manor, but his relative experience after just a single season of F1 competition in a tail-end team is raising doubts about his candidature.
QUIZ: The 2016 season is over… but how much about it can you remember?
Nevertheless, Wehrlein feels the experience he has acquired in 2016, coupled to the frequency of his test outings with Mercedes this year on the new specification tyres stand him in good stead to get up to speed quickly.
"One season in F1 is not a lot but I feel ready for the job and confident," said Wehrlein when picking up his Autosport Award for Best Rookie of the Year. "I'm sure Toto [Wolff]'s phone is overheating after Friday.
"I've done most days with the 2017 tyres and I think it's very important to have that experience."
Having held the role of Mercedes test and reserve driver in 2014 and 2015, Wehrlein stepped up to F1 with Manor in 2016 and has largely impressed in the relatively uncompetitive machinery.
READ: 'Half the grid' chasing Rosberg's Mercedes drive - Lauda
However, his reputation has taken a hit on the back of being overlooked for a Force India drive for 2017, with the less experienced Esteban Ocon getting the nod instead. Prior to Rosberg's exit, Wehrlein was reportedly being lined up for a move to Sauber in 2017.
READ: Lewis Hamilton responds to Nico Rosberg's unexpected retirement
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