Pascal Wehrlein

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Button gets empty penalty for Wehrlein clash on last F1 showing

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Jenson Button’s second farewell to Formula 1 ended in the same fashion as his first when he was forced to retire from Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix following a bizarre clash with Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Button started from the pit lane in Monaco after an engine penalty, and spent the majority of his race staring at Wehrlein’s diffuser after both opted to pit on the opening lap.

Growing increasingly frustrated with his “painful” race, Button tried to lunge down the inside of Wehrlein at Portier, one of the tighest points on the circuit, on Lap 57.

The contact tipped Wehrlein’s car into the air before coming to rest on its side up against the wall at Portier. While the German driver escaped from the car unharmed, he was not able to get out until the marshals had righted the car.

“The most important thing is that Pascal is OK. It’s unusual to see a car go on its side,” Button told NBCSN after the race.

“I thought I was well alongside him when we got to the corner and then I noticed he hadn’t seen me. I tried to back out but it was too late.

“The important thing is that he got out OK. I saw him a minute ago and he’s obviously a little bit shaken, but he’s fine. It was a slow speed accident but you never know with tire barriers when a car tips.

“Up to that point it was pretty tough. The pace was good when I had clear air, but none of it really matters.

“Yesterday was a great day, and I’ll remember yesterday, that’s the main thing.”

Despite being cleared by the medical crew in Monaco, Wehrlein confirmed after the clash that he will require another check in the coming days for fear of aggravating his pre-season injury.

“I am feeling OK after the accident. I could get out of the car by myself and went for the usual medical examination,” Wehrlein said.

“As my head touched the barriers, it will be decided within the coming days if I need another medical investigation, also because of the previous thoracic vertebra injury.

“I am very upset as this is a result of an unnecessary overtaking maneuver, bearing in mind that Jenson and I were both on a similar strategy with the pit stop in the first lap, far off from points.

“An annoying incident which should not have happened.”

The stewards sided with Wehrlein and deemed Button to be at fault, handing the Briton a three-place grid penalty for his next F1 race – a sanction he is highly unlikely to ever serve.

Late-race attrition adds twist to Monaco GP, six cars out in 20 laps (VIDEOS)

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Sebastian Vettel may have looked calm on the podium after clinching victory in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, but some late-race drama caused by cars further back had put him under far greater pressure in the closing stages.

Vettel leapfrogged Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen through the pit stops to take the lead of the race at half distance before surging 10 seconds clear.

However, Vettel’s lead was wiped away when the safety car was deployed following a clash between Jenson Button and Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, one of the tightest parts of the circuit.

Battling for 18th place, Button tried diving down the inside of Wehrlein, only for the pair to knock wheels and the German’s Sauber to tip in the air, coming to rest at a 90-degree angle up against the wall.

The incident sparked concern among the passing drivers, but Wehrlein soon reported to his team that he was OK, and simply could not get out of his car due to the position of the wall.

The Monegasque marshals were quick to come to Wehrlein’s aid and right his car before sending him off to the medical center for a check-up.

The incident acted as the first in a string of late drama that saw six cars drop out in the close 21 laps, with the safety car bunching the field and resulting in some desperate moves.

The next retirement came courtesy of Marcus Ericsson in one of the more embarrassing mistakes you will see in F1 this year as he crashed behind the safety car.

As a lapped car, Ericsson was given the wave-by to pass the safety car and try to unlap himself, only to duff his Sauber into the wall at Turn 1 in the process.

Turn 1 would claim another victim on the restart when Stoffel Vandoorne threw away McLaren’s chance to score its first points of the year. As Sergio Perez made a divebomb move up the inside, Vandoorne was unable to slow on the marbles and careered straight into the barrier, bringing his race to an end.

Perez continued to charge after passing Vandoorne, making an opportunistic move on Daniil Kvyat through La Rascasse. The pair made contact, leaving a hole in Kvyat’s sidepod and forcing the Russian driver to park up at Casino Square.

The final casualty of the race was Lance Stroll, who after reporting concerns with his brakes was seen being parked up in his garage with seven laps to go, extending the Canadian’s point-less start to life in F1.

Spain points a ‘massive’ morale boost for Sauber after tough start

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Sauber Formula 1 techincal chief Jörg Zander feels that Pascal Wehrlein’s run to eighth place in the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago acted as a “massive” morale boost to the team after a tough start to the season.

After years of uncertainty, Sauber’s long-term future was secured last summer when the team was taken over by Longbow Finance, allowing it to go on a recruitment drive and bolster its staffing levels.

The team opted to stick with 2016-spec Ferrari power units for the 2017 season ahead of a new deal with Honda for next year, putting it on the back foot compared to its rivals.

Sauber endured a bumpy start to the year when Wehrlein was injured through the off-season and forced to miss the first two races, as well as struggling to battle for points early in the year when the 2017-spec power units would not be so far ahead.

Wehrlein managed to bounce back in Spain two weeks ago after the team perfected a one-stop strategy to finish eighth, giving the team its best result in two years.

“There was obviously a massive boost for the morale and motivation of the team. We actually didn’t expect us to be there in Barcelona,” Zander said.

“The upgrade package which we planned for Barcelona, we moved to this event. So somehow things seem to have been turned upside down. As you know, we didn’t have Pascal for the first two races, so we had to go with [Antonio] Giovinazzi and, of course, that introduced quite a bit of a change to the operational side.

“So we had a very young, new driver into the car, which we needed to get adapted. But obviously from a development point of view, we do understand that the car is behind, compared to our defined competition, which is the midfield, primarily because we started pretty early in the season to develop that car.

“So we have to try and catch-up. But the parameter we fight here, of course, is time and it’s difficult to gain time over the competition. They have a certain time available as we have, so there’s not any difference.”

Despite finding stability, Sauber is still a significantly smaller operation compared to many of the teams in F1, with Zander appreciating the challenge this creates.

“The thing is, of course, about resources, and these resources, we’re just about to configure and to adapt,” Zander said.

“We have made plenty of recruitments but these are all new people so there is a human factor involved, with regards to getting more out of this operation.

“These are the kind of difficulties that we are fighting at the moment.”

Wehrlein releases photos of injury recovery after F1 comeback in Bahrain

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Pascal Wehrlein has released three photos showing his recovery from neck and back injuries in the winter, calling it “history” after making a successful return to Formula 1 in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Wehrlein suffered three broken vertebra in an accident at the Race of Champions in January, forcing him to miss the opening two races of the new season.

After regaining fitness, Wehrlein returned with Sauber in Bahrain last weekend, enjoying an impressive charge to 11th in the race that saw him narrowly miss out on a debut point for the Swiss team.

Despite facing criticism from some corners for deciding to miss the races in Australia and China, Wehrlein hit back by releasing three pictures of his recovery, showing the extent of his injury that required him to remain in a brace.

“I am very satisfied with how the weekend went, being in P13 in qualifying and now finishing the race in P11,” Wehrlein said.

“It was a tough race, as we decided to only make one pit stop. The result is the maximum that we could have achieved today.

“It is obviously a pity that we have missed this point by only one position. Nevertheless, I am already looking forward to the next grand prix.”

F1 Sauber driver Wehrlein hits back at critics over absence

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SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has hit back at critics who questioned why he missed the first two races in Formula One.

Wehrlein will finally make his debut for Sauber at the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, after Italian Antonio Giovinazzi replaced him at the season-opening Australian GP and then the China GP last weekend.

The 22-year-old German injured his back in a crash at the Race of Champions in Miami in January, sustaining hairline cracks in vertebrae and compressing some of his intervertebral discs.

But there was confusion surrounding the initial driver switch in Australia because Wehrlein competed in the first two practice sessions at Melbourne, leading to speculation.

“I don’t care too much what the others say. They didn’t know my situation,” Wehrlein said on Thursday at the Bahrain GP.

“If you don’t know what injury someone had, you shouldn’t criticize him. It’s quite simple. If it was just some muscle pain or anything else, do you think Sauber would accept me to not drive?”

Wehrlein is confident he will be fit enough to race on Sunday.

“I’ll be fine in the car. No pain, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “The track is also quite flat, not many bumps.”

Wehrlein impressed at times last year with Manor Racing during his F1 debut season, finishing 10th at the Austrian GP for the team’s only point.