Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein to miss Chinese Grand Prix, replaced by Antonio Giovinazzi
By Laurence Edmondson F1 Editor – ESPN
Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein will be replaced by Antonio Giovinazzi for the second race in a row at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Wehrlein pulled out of the season-opener in Australia midway through the weekend due to a lack of race fitness and has now confirmed he will miss the entire Chinese Grand Prix weekend. Wehrlein injured his back in an accident at the Race of Champion in January and says the following disruption to his training schedule left him unable to reach the required fitness level to complete a race distance in Melbourne.
With the Bahrain Grand Prix just one week after the Chinese round, he admits that it might not be until the Russian Grand Prix in three weeks’ time that he returns to action.
“For me the most important is that I can train intensively to ensure a 100% performance from my side as soon as possible,” he said. “I will then be well-prepared for my first complete Grand Prix weekend for the Sauber F1 Team. Hopefully this can be in Bahrain but, if not, then we will take the time it needs until Russia to make sure I am completely ready.”
Wehrlein is a Mercedes junior driver and his boss Toto Wolff said he was impressed by his driver’s maturity in the circumstances.
“I feel for Pascal, because he has had all the bad luck. I’m impressed with the maturity he has shown to inform Sauber that he wouldn’t be able to perform at the level required in Melbourne. That took courage and selflessness, which I know earned him a lot of credit within the team. “Now, he needs to build up his fitness and come back strong. I have no doubt that when he’s back in the car, he’ll prove he’s still the same Pascal.
Giovinazzi finished 12th on his debut for Sauber in Australia following just two days of pre-season testing for the team.