Pascal Wehrlein’s performance for Manor in Austrian Grand Prix qualifying was the first time in Formula 1 that the Mercedes protege has proved he is special, according to Toto Wolff.
Rookie Wehrlein ended an eventful and rain-affected qualifying session 12th to equal Manor’s best-ever qualifying performance.
Wehrlein, who is also Mercedes reserve, has made an impressive start to his F1 career. But Mercedes boss Wolff said he really proved his talent with drive at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday.
“I’m very happy,” Wolff said. “It’s the first racetrack he has raced on, he didn’t know any of the others. Barcelona he knew from testing, but it’s the first time he can call on some experience.
“When you come to some of these racetracks where you haven’t been, it’s difficult to be among the best drivers in the world so I’m delighted with his performance. It’s the first time this season he has really proved that he is a special boy.”
Wehrlein conceded it was a surprise and put the performance down to a great lap and Manor’s ability to get on top of the tires.
“We were more competitive this weekend then the weekends before but to be P12 was a surprise,” he said. “All of a sudden, we had enough tire temperature.
“This weekend, everyone is having a lot of tire temperature, I think it’s due to the new surface here, but we are not struggling to get the tires to work.
“My laps were great, the team did a great job and I’m really happy with qualifying. It was definitely one of the best laps.”
Manor team boss Dave Ryan praised Wehrlein for doing a “superb” job, particularly as he was not far away from getting into Q3.
“He was very comfortable with the car,” said Ryan. “The tires seem to be working pretty well for us. He did a superb job and the team did a good job and made all the right calls – it just came together.
“Pascal has been quick all weekend to be honest. We weren’t that far from getting into the next session. A lot of guys had trouble but that is the name of the game.
“Having said that, we deserved to be through to Q2 today – the team worked well and Pascal worked well.”