Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has confirmed his will miss the first Pre-Season test in Barcelona due to a back issue he sustained in his crash at Race of Champions.
I have to skip the first wintertest due to medical advice because of a BACK issue. I feel sorry for the team but we'll come back stronger!
— Pascal Wehrlein (@PWehrlein) February 17, 2017
The Mercedes junior driver had been set for a first outing for his new team at the test, having confirmed during winter break he would be moving to Sauber for the 2017 season. However he took to twitter today to confirm he has been forced to sit out the test due to the back injury sustained in January’s Race of Champions event. Wehrlein was hurt in a collision with fellow driver Felipe Massa at last month’s event in Miami, when the three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot he was driving flipped into the barriers.
Wehrlein made his debut at Manor last year and was seen by many to be doing a good job, scoring a world championship point for them at the Austrian GP. His challenge came in the second half of the season when he was put up against fellow Mercedes protégé Esteban Ocon. He was able to hold his own against Ocon and finished the season 19th in the Drivers championship.
This latest issue could not have come at a worse time for Wehrlein, who was overlooked for the vacant seat at Mercedes in favour of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. As well as this, the young German also missed out on the opportunity for a seat at Force India, with Ocon filling the seat there instead. While he will still be on the grid for 2017 in a Sauber, many are questioning why exactly Mercedes seemed to promote Ocon into the better team and seemingly snub Wehrlein.
It is now believed that GP2 star Antonio Giovinazzi, who has recently signed as Ferrari reserve driver, is instead expected to test alongside Marcus Ericsson in Sauber’s C36 during the first week of testing. The team however are yet to confirm this. The experience could give Giovinazzi, who was overlooked by Sauber for 2017, a better chance of landing an F1 seat in the future.
The first pre-season test takes place at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, from February 27th to March 2nd.
Feature Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pascal_Wehrlein_2016_Malaysia_Q1.jpg