Wolff: Wehrlein ‘very important’ in Manor development

© XPB 

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says Pascal Wehrlein will play a key role in Manor's development, as he expects the 2015 DTM champion to be the lead driver in the team.

Wehrlein’s promotion to F1 was confirmed only a couple of weeks before the start of this year’s pre-season testing, with the German forming an all-rookie pairing at the small British outfit alongside multiple GP2 Series race winner Rio Haryanto.

“This is an important step for Pascal because he has been integrated within the Mercedes family for a long time,” Wolff said at the German constructor’s kick off event in Stuttgart. “He was very successful in DTM […] and he was embedded in a large structure. He has been our F1 test driver for a while.

“Manor is a great little team of racers. They have attracted some great talent, people with huge experience from the past. They have a Mercedes engine in the car and they have Pascal in the driving seat.

“I think Manor can achieve goods results this year, they can have highlights in my perspective but Pascal plays a very important part in bringing the team forward. Although this is his rookie season, he is the lead driver in the team. They are going to rely on his feedback on how to develop the car.

“If he is able to bring the team behind him, if he is able to push the team forward, that experience will be very valuable in case he comes to a bigger structure one day.”

Mercedes currently has triple world champion Lewis Hamilton and 14-time grand prix winner Nico Rosberg on its roster. Wolff admits the manufacturer plans on promoting Wehrlein to its works outfit some time in the future, but not before the 21-year-old has met specific goals set out for him.

“In terms of how he fits into the line-up, we are very happy with Nico and Lewis in the team and they are our present. This is who we are today, but we need to look forward and the years to come, and Pascal has been a part of Mercedes for a long time and we would not have put ourselves behind him in the way we did if we didn't expect him to one day step in a Silver Arrow.

“This is the target and he knows he has a journey ahead of him where he has to achieve the targets we have set in front of him in order to make it in such a car.”

Click here for an exclusive Q&A with Honda's Yusuke Hasegawa

Carlos Sainz interview: The most important year, again

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter