Sauber F1 team have decided to sit driver Pascal Wehrlein out for the rest of the Australian Grand Prix following the continued fitness after effects of his Race of Champions crash.
The German racer complained of a “fitness deficit” following the Friday practice sessions, leaving Sauber little choice but to bring in reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi for his Grand Prix debut.
Wehrlein missed the first test in Barcelona in the aftermath of his ROC crash, allowing Giovinazzi two days of running in the Ferrari-powered C36, but it was believed that he had fully regained his fitness.
Of Wehrlein, Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said, “We have great respect of Pascal’s openness and professionalism. This decision was definitely not an easy one for him, it underlines his qualities as a team player. The focus is now on his fitness level, and in such a situation we do not take any unnecessary risks. Pascal will be in China as planned.”
Wehrlein added: “My fitness level is not as it should be for a full race distance because of my training deficit. I explained the situation to the team yesterday evening. Therefore, the Sauber F1 Team has decided not to take any risks. It is a pity, but the best decision for the team.”
Giovinazzi secured runner-up spots in both the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and last year’s GP2 Series.