Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says he hopes that the marque's current crop of 'development' drivers can be the vanguard for a stream of talent making it to the top flight.

While the Three Pointed Star does not currently have an opening for a new face in its F1 line-up, as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continue to prove worthy of the best seats in the sport, that has not stopped Wolff from signing up a couple of youngsters, or from considering expanding the roster in future.

Mercedes currently has two future stars involved in F1 behind Hamilton and Rosberg, but they are running with other teams - one a 2016 customer and the other a former client who has now taken its engine supply in-house. While reigning GP3 champion Esteban Ocon must bide his time as reserve at Renault, DTM champ Pascal Wehrlein is already cutting his teeth with Manor, and is widely regarded as the successor to either of the present Silver Arrows drivers.

"I think it's a good development," Wolff noted, "In the past, it was only Red Bull holding up young drivers and transitioning them into F1 on merit but, now, with Renault coming in and having Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen being back in a car, Pascal Wehrlein in a Manor and an additional team which has financial resource, I think it's good news and hopefully we will see more good young people come into F1 based on merit."

They key difference to Mercedes' succession plan, however, is allowing rivals to make use of the talent while it works out how to involve them long term. While Red Bull has a natural outlet in Toro Rosso, its reputation for shedding drivers from a widespread pool of talent is well-known, often to the detriment of careers that no doubt thought they had it made.

"For us certainly, it's about finding the right places," Wolff concluded, "It doesn't make a lot of sense to start an inflationary system and just enter many young kids if you don't have a place in F1. With Esteban and Renault I think we found a good solution for our mutual benefit. Equally, with Pascal, a completely different challenge for him this year than last and we'll see how that pans out."

Ocon is marrying his F1 reserve role with a season in the DTM, while Wehrlein, his predecessor in the tin-top season, finished 16th on his grand prix debut with the Manor team.



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