Pascal Wehrlein To Sit Out Chinese Grand Prix

Reserve Driver Antonio Giovinazzi will again fill in for Wehrlein. 

AUTO-AUS-PRIX-F1
SAEED KHAN—AFP/Getty Images

Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein informed his team that he will not participate in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. Reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi will take his place for the second race in row. Wehrlein bowed out of the season opening race in Australia after the weekend's first two practice sessions. He told the team he was not fit enough to complete the race distance. It appears that is still the case.

Wehrlein was injured in the off-season when he crashed during the Race Of Champions in Miami, FL. Crossing the finish line, his Polaris Slingshot ran wide and made contact with a barrier. After the race was over, this sent him out of control into the Slingshot driven by Felipe Massa. Wehrlein then rolled over a second barrier, finally coming to rest on a third. While he walked away from the accident, the lingering effects caused him to miss out on several weeks of training during the short period between the Race Of Champions and the start of Formula One testing.

The Chinese Grand Prix will mark the second start for Giovinazzi, and his first full F1 race weekend. At the Australian Grand Prix, Giovinazzi got the call to drive just hours before the third practice session. This gave him very little time in the car before qualifying, where he ended up 16th. He narrowing missed out on getting into the second round of qualifying. He finished the race a respectable 12th, considering that he had driven the car for the first time about 24 hours earlier.

Sauber is confident that Wehrlein will be back in the car sooner rather than later, but the Bahrain Grand Prix takes place only one week after China. It would be more realistic for Wehrlein to return for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi at the end of April.