Numerous sources are reporting that Sauber are set to confirm Pascal Wehrlein as driver for the team in 2017 with only the paperwork set to be formalised, to team up with Marcus Ericsson.
This all but confirms that Mercedes have struck a deal with Valtteri Bottas to replace their retired World Champion Nico Rosberg, while closing the door on the Swiss team’s Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr who appears to have run out of funding for a race seat.
Wehrlein emerged as a front runner for a drive with Mercedes immediately after Rosberg’s shock decision, but the team’s management felt he was not experienced enough to be thrust in the hot-seat alongside Lewis Hamilton in the sport’s dominant team.
They also wanted to avoid the rookie going head-to-head with the triple world champion in a scenario akin to the volatile pairing of Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007.
Wehrlein’s departure from Manor, where he impressed in his rookie season, means that the Mercedes powered back-marker team still has two drives available, but also suggests that Mercedes have more confidence in Sauber providing their junior driver a platform to perform than their own customer team.
Sauber will be powered by year old Ferrari power units in 2017.
The Swiss team’s media department were contacted for comment, but did not respond.