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Mercedes hints at Wehrlein but rules out Bottas?

Toto Wolff says he is prepared to make a 'brave' choice when deciding who to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in F1 2017.
Toto Wolff has revealed he is prepared to make a 'brave' choice when deciding who will replace the retired Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes F1 team.

Following last week's shock revelation that Rosberg will retire from the sport just days after landing his first F1 world title, attention has now turned to who will replace the German in the triple title-winning team.

As it stands, Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein remains the moderate favourite to land the high-profile seat, but his relative lack of experience and the team's hesitance in identifying him as the front runner have cast doubts on his candidacy.

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However, while Wolff admits the timing of Rosberg's announcement has 'compromised' the decision-making process, he suggests being forced to make a 'brave' decision – seemingly a reference to Wehrlein – isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"Clearly, with Nico taking the decision quite late we are in a bit of a compromised situation because if we had known three months ago there were more options available,” he told Sky Sports F1.

"Maybe we need to make a brave decision in the same way Nico has made a brave decision. We need the quickest guy who makes the least mistakes and understands that this is a team game.

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Wolff does, however, suggest Mercedes won't attempt to prise Valtteri Bottas out of his Williams contract given his importance to a team that has just taken on rookie Lance Stroll as his team-mate for F1 2017.

"Besides the personal relationship, where he's a very likeable and intelligent driver, he's also somebody who is very, very fast," claimed Wolff. "But he's with Williams now, the lead driver, and is very important for the combination with Lance Stroll. Claire [Williams] and her team very much rely on him."

The term 'brave' is a nod to Wolff's reaction to Rosberg's sensational decision to quit the sport as champion. At the time of the announcement, Wolff said it was 'a brave decision and testament to the strength of his [Rosberg's] character.

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30.07.2016 - Qualifying, Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Manor Racing MRT05
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14.05.2017 - Race, Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber C36 and Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
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14.05.2017 - Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
14.05.2017 - Race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 and Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber C36
14.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
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Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the team.
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Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the team.
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Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the team.
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Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the team.
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ZEDX

December 08, 2016 10:25 AM

So that's the Bottas recruitment story finished. ... Toto seems adamant he doesn't want to upset Williams by making overtures about Bottas.. after all, Williams are a customer team and not a "B" team (like TR are to Red Bull), so why cause animosity and, in any case, Williams would want an equivalent driver to replace him.. not Wehrlein!

richard

December 08, 2016 3:21 PM

sainz is contracted to red bull, and if they really have high hopes for him, they wont release him! therefore, if you did find that sainz is released, then it is because he is not perceived as a likely wdc.



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