Wehrlein prepared for big change with F1 switch

Pascal Wehrlein might be part of the Mercedes family and the reigning DTM champion, but when it comes to Formula One he’s just another rookie about to make his first Grand Prix start with a backmarker team.

It’s going to be quite a change for the 21-year-old German, who also has joint Mauritius nationality – and not just in the hardware that he’ll be racing, but also in the very culture around him.

“There’s a big, big difference,” said Wehrlein when asked how DTM and Formula One compared on a technical level. “The Formula One car is a single seater, but the weight I would say is the biggest difference.

“In a DTM car you can’t see your tyres, and for [Formula One] drivers it’s important so see the tyres so you know when you lock up.

“For everything else there’s just big differences in speed, in braking, in corner speed and also everything around it, so quite a big difference.

“But I’m used to it, to change from DTM to Formula One and back again, so no problem for me,” he added, speaking at the Mercedes kick off event in Stuttgart this week.

Perhaps the biggest difference for Wehrlein is in the nature of the team surrounding him. In DTM he had the full backing of the Mercedes marque which helped him clinch the 2015 title, but his début in Formula One will be made with the much smaller Manor Racing squad at the back of the Grand Prix grid.

While he will still get the benefit of a Mercedes power unit, his change on status down the grid will make winning the pole positions, podium finishes and race victories that he’s become used to in the last couple of seasons almost impossible to replicate. However, Wehrlein insists that he’ll still make the most of whatever opportunities present themselves.

“I will smile for sure,” insisted Wehrlein. “Maybe not so often, but I will still smile.

“I think I have to see it very differently this year,” he conceded. “Last year I knew I could fight for wins, podiums and if everything goes well I’m fighting for it, and when I didn’t achieve that I wasn’t happy.

“This year I know that I’m probably not going to fight for a win, and the first thing is to beat my team mate and then also to fight with the other teams and maybe to catchup and in some races put in some highlights.”

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