After scoring Manor’s first championship point since Jules Bianchi at Monaco in 2014, Pascal Wehrlein has admitted he doesn’t know how Manor was able to challenge the Haas and Williams.
Wehrlein secured Manor’s best qualifying performance yesterday by qualifying in 12th position, sandwiched between the Haas drivers of Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean.
During the race the German ran as high as sixth before making his first pit stop and found himself challenging the Williams of Valtteri Bottas towards the end of the race for 10th position, when Sergio Perez suffered a brake failure and crashed out of the points on the final lap promoting Wehrlein into the points.
Asked after the race if he knew where Manor got their race pace from, Wehrlein replied with: “I have no idea!”
“A lot is due to the tyres because it is the first weekend we are not struggling with tyre temperature normally because we don’t have as much downforce as the other teams. Downforce puts a lot of energy into the tyres and it is the first weekend even we have overheated out tyres, so this helped a lot.”
The 10th position handed Manor their second points finish in the history of the team after Bianchi’s ninth in the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix when the team competed under the name Marussia.
Wehrlein believes that some of the team’s performance is due to getting the tyres in the optimal working range, which helped the German run a long stint on the soft compound.
“We didn’t expect to do 40 laps on the soft set of tyres. I was really lucky to hold the life for more than half of the race distance,” he continued.
“Under these circumstances, it feels great. In the middle of the race I was thinking the race was done because we were so unlucky with the safety car. But I kept pushing and tried to manage my tyres because I didn’t want to stop again and in the end I was fighting with Bottas and Gutierrez and the team told me you need to keep Gutierrez behind you.
“He is on fresh tyres but you need to keep him behind and you can maybe score a point. It was a tough race at the end.
“I was hoping to get a crazy scenario when Rosberg and Hamilton were coming, but otherwise it would have been difficult to overtake because I had 10 laps on the super-soft tyres and I was 40 laps on the soft tyre. I was still able to fight with him so it was a great performance of the car.”
Manor now has a stronger position in the championship as closest rivals Sauber are yet to score a point in 2016, with momentum on his side Wehrlein is aiming to capitalise on his strong weekend in Austria.
“There are a few races coming and I hope to score more points, but I know the prize money makes a big difference between P11 and P10.”
Image via Manor Racing