Formula One’s ‘Little Prince’ Pascal Wehrlein may one day rule the world but just scoring a point is a big enough deal at the moment.
The German rookie helped Manor, the smallest team on the grid, to move off the bottom and ahead of struggling Sauber in Austria last weekend with their first point of the season.
His 10th place, from 12th on the grid, might have been more of a talking point had dominant Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
not collided on the last lap and grabbed all the attention.
The 21-year-old Mercedes reserve might also have had a good claim to the Driver of the Day award that went to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who
“To arrive with a Manor in P10 is maybe a better result than to arrive with a Red Bull in P2,” Wehrlein said of that decision. “There’s Mercedes and Ferrari and Red Bull who are the first three teams and the chance to arrive with the Red Bull on the podium is quite big.”
Renault, with an engine that has already powered 18-year-old Verstappen to victory in Spain, are five points ahead of Manor in the championship and Wehrlein would love to take the fight to them.
The driver whose boyhood F1 idol was McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen, with his ‘Maximum Attack’ approach, is already ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer as the highest-placed rookie.
“In Austria we benefited from a few problems from other people and were much more competitive than in previous races,” said the German. “We need to make sure we are competitive again in the next races. We also need luck to be in the position to score a point again. But why not?
“If we can hold this position, or maybe fight with the Renaults, it could give us so much more money for next year which helps us for development and improving the car.”
Wehrlein is seen as an heir apparent for the day when either Hamilton or Rosberg depart from Mercedes, and is a driver described by that team’s boss Toto Wolff as ‘our little prince’ and ‘a special boy’.
He would jump at the chance but knows he has a lot to learn.
The youngest champion in the DTM (German Touring Car championship) has never raced at Silverstone before and Austria was the first circuit of
the season that he knew from his
In Austria, he showed he has a cool head on young shoulders. With the Williams of Brazilian Felipe Massa having to start from the pit lane, a space opened up on the grid ahead of him and Wehrlein drove straight into it. The error almost cost him dear but he hurriedly managed to avoid a penalty by engaging reverse moments before the start lights came on.
“There were many thoughts in my head, like the team will be very upset and of course everyone will be angry. And I will be the most angry guy if I get a penalty,” he said.
“I needed to reverse, stop my procedure for the start. I was pushing so many buttons at the same time and then pulling the reverse gear and going backwards. But everything I did needed to happen within five seconds. I was like a DJ.”