Promoting Wehrlein to Mercedes F1 team 'not a foregone conclusion'

Paddy Lowe says it is "not a foregone conclusion" that Pascal Wehrlein will replace the retiring Nico Rosberg at the Mercedes Formula 1 team next season

Promoting Wehrlein to Mercedes F1 team 'not a foregone conclusion'

The Mercedes junior enjoyed an impressive rookie campaign in F1 with customer team Manor in 2016, and insists he is ready to step up to the factory squad if required.

Who should replace Rosberg in 2017?

Following the promotion of fellow junior Esteban Ocon to Force India for 2017, Wehrlein is one of the few existing drivers yet to secure a seat for next year.

There is logic to Mercedes promoting a driver nurtured from within, Wehrlein having been its reserve since September 2014, but Lowe said his team still needed to complete "various studies" before making the final call.

"It's not a forgone conclusion, we'll have to see who is available and do some analysis," Lowe said.

"There are different aspects, we'll be looking at previous form and what we could expect in terms of performance and consistency.

"It's one thing to be quick, but can you go out there and score the points every week?

"I just want someone who can score the points in the way that Nico has done."

Mercedes could attempt to prize a more established name from a rival outfit, with team boss Toto Wolff understood to have been contacted by a large number of F1 drivers already under contract.

However Wolff told Italian media in the wake of Rosberg's shock retirement that he would prefer not to chase after established stars like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Lowe suggested Mercedes was more likely to focus on drivers that are "actually available".

"The first part of the process will be to find out what the list looks like, then we'll do our analysis," he said.

"I think we are going to have to look at candidates that are actually available.

"The fear in a way is if we can't find a decent pilot for the other seat to replace Nico, if we do have a strong car, might have a driver running away with it, which would be good for us, but not good for the show."

Lowe also said he was unconcerned by the prospect of exposing an inexperienced driver to the pressure of racing F1's top team.

"That aspect doesn't worry me too much because in my experience top drivers tend to step up to that plate and almost perform better when you give them a better context in which to do so," Lowe added.

"Drivers do step up if you put them into a better environment, but there's still that risk and we'll need to assess that.

"On top of all those technical and analytical aspects, there are softer factors to consider - like what's the fit with the company and the values of the company, and what they're trying to do for the team."

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