Niki Lauda and Helmut Marko discuss junior programmes

Published on 20 Dec 2016 17:17

Dr. Helmut Marko has poked fun at Mercedes' junior programme during an appearance on Austrian television.

Appearing alongside Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, Marko questioned Mercedes' anticipated decision to replace Nico Rosberg with Valtteri Bottas as opposed to promoting junior driver Pascal Wehrlein.

"You have a junior program and you have the highly regarded Mr. Wehrlein," Marko said. "Wehrlein does not look like he will get the drive. That means you do not trust your own junior program."

Lauda responded with: "I must correct that."

"The junior program is, as you say, a junior program. Young drivers should gain experience. Clearly, we can discuss whether Wehrlein is ready or not, but don’t forget that Max Verstappen first started out at Toro Rosso this year until the Russian [Daniil Kvyat] made a mistake and only then did you take him over to the senior team."

Marko then highlighted the fact that hiring another driver could prove expensive.

"Well, Wehrlein is still very young, but no risk, no fun," he said. "If you take Valtteri Bottas, you have to give a two-digit million amount in the form of a reduction in engine costs to Williams. OK, you have a budget of 22 million now that you are not paying Rosberg, but then you would have to buy Wehrlein a drive at a team that drives a competitor's engine."

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