‘Too early’ to promote Wehrlein - Tost

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Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost believes it would be ‘too early’ for Mercedes to promote Pascal Wehrlein to its multiple championship-winning works outfit.

The German manufacturer has been forced to revisit its 2017 line-up in the wake of Nico Rosberg’s shock decision to retire as a world champion.

Mercedes protégé Wehrlein, who is coming off a strong rookie season at Manor and has been testing extensively with Pirelli's 2017-spec tyres, initially seemed the best fit for the triple world champions. But Williams ace Valtteri Bottas has emerged as the front-runner to partner Lewis Hamilton in 2017.

While Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko recently taunted Niki Lauda about Mercedes’s reluctance to give Wehrlein the nod, Tost understands the constructor’s position.

“This is a very difficult situation to be in, no doubt about it,” the Toro Rosso boss said of Rosberg’s surprise departure in an interview with Austrian publication Tiroler Tageszeitung.

“The team that has won everything over the past few years now has to replace a world champion. And it happened at a very late stage, with all top drivers locked in their current contracts.”

Talking about Wehrlein, Tost added: “They have a very good driver waiting in the wings. But the expectations of a world championship-caliber team are naturally quite different. Sooner or later, Wehrlein will be able to win but it is still too early.

“I have always said that a driver needs three years to understand everything in Formula One. Of course having a Hamilton/Wehrlein pairing would be the easiest solution but we’re talking about the defending world champions here.

“There is a lot of money at stake. At any rate, having an open seat that late is not great for the team’s stability.”

It’s quite interesting to hear Tost say that promoting Wehrlein would be too early. Red Bull certainly did not hesitate to pull the trigger and poach Max Verstappen from Toro Rosso after one year and four grands prix, which worked out quite well.

2016 driver ratings: 24-13

2016 team-by-team review: Part two

2016 team-by-team review: Part one

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