JANUARY 14, 2017
Berger would have picked Wehrlein over Bottas
F1 legend Gerhard Berger says that if he was in charge at Mercedes, he would have signed Pascal Wehrlein for 2017.
The former Ferrari and McLaren driver helped negotiate Nico Rosberg's lucrative new contract earlier this year, but the German quit F1 as soon as he won the 2016 title.
Now, it appears Mercedes has negotiated a complex contract release with Williams so that Valtteri Bottas can replace Rosberg.
But Berger told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I would have taken Wehrlein. Because it would underline your (driver) programme.
"Wehrlein gave a convincing impression in the programme, but he can only show how good he really is in a top car."
However, Berger said he understands Mercedes' reasoning.
"Compared to Bottas, Wehrlein is certainly a risk. But perhaps the most clever solution is not always the obvious one.
"I rate Bottas highly. He is fast, a good team player, a nice guy and he has earned the chance to prove himself. On the other hand, he did not stand out from Massa enough to say clearly 'He is the right choice'," he said.
And Berger also thinks Mercedes' 2017 solution is only an "interim" one.
"Mercedes needs to think about the future regarding its drivers, because even Hamilton's contract will expire. They need an interim solution with a view to 2018," he said.
"The most important thing now is to find a second driver so that Hamilton doesn't fall asleep. But it could also be that without Nico, Lewis finds the peace he needs and doesn't get himself into trouble.
"I believe Mercedes will again be the benchmark in 2017," added Berger.