By Alan Baldwin
SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Germany's Pascal Wehrlein raised a cheer at backmarkers Manor and drew praise from Mercedes Formula One team boss Toto Wolff on Saturday after qualifying an astonishing 12th at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Mercedes reserve driver, who has been placed at the sport's smallest team to gain experience, said he was thrilled.
"It’s an incredible feeling for me and the whole team. I feel very proud of us today; it’s a measure of how hard we have all been working and a nice reward for that effort," he said.
The grid position was Manor's best since the late French driver Jules Bianchi qualified 12th at Silverstone in 2014, when the team was known as Marussia.
The Mercedes-powered team has yet to score a point this season.
"It's the first racetrack (of the season) that he has actually raced on," Wolff told reporters. "Barcelona he knew from testing but this is the first time he can build on some experience he had before.
"I am delighted with his performance. Suddenly, for the first time this season, he really proved that he is a special boy."
Wehrlein, whose mother is from Mauritius, came into Formula One from the German Touring Car championship (DTM) which he won in 2015 as the youngest champion.
Before that he competed in the European Formula Three series.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell)