By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Pascal Wehrlein will return to action for Sauber in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The team announced his long awaited return via social media today, just three days before Free Practice 1 on Friday. Wehrlein infamously sat out the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix due to his less than optimal fitness after the injury he sustained from his Race of Champions crash in January.
Taking his place back in the team relegates reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi back to the sidelines after a spectacular debut in Australia, but an embarrassing, crash strewn performance in Shanghai that saw him out of the race on lap 4.
Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn stated over the weekend that Wehrlein would be back in the car soon. “His target and our target is to have him as soon as possible in the car,” said Kaltenborn. “Ideally in the next race, but if not it will be the next one. What’s clear is that he is our second driver and that’s not going to change.”
Most had anticipated that Wehrlein would be back for the Russian Grand Prix on April 30th, not that he would be in the car in Bahrain, just one week after sitting out the Chinese Grand Prix. It definitely feels as if Sauber is rushing him back after Giovinazzi’s lacklustre drive last weekend. As one of the smallest teams, Sauber simply can’t afford to rebuild a car every race. They need the consistency of a slightly more experienced driver like Wehrlein to bring the car home in one piece, and as close to the points as possible.
It will be interesting to see how Wehrlein copes not only with the spot light of his debut race for Sauber, but also the extra attention he will garner in his attempt to bring the car home after struggling with his fitness.
— Sauber F1 Team (@SauberF1Team) April 11, 2017