As expected, but not necessarily official until confirmed directly by Sauber F1 Team, Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been confirmed to fill in for Pascal Wehrlein at next week’s first test of the Formula 1 season at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona which runs from February 27-March 2. The second test, also in Barcelona, is March 7-10.
Sauber called Wehrlein’s injuries, reported as either neck or back injuries in other outlets, “back problems” and said further information will follow when available.
The team has not, as yet, confirmed its test plan of when Giovinazzi and Marcus Ericsson, who ran the team’s filming day earlier this week, will drive.
“We took the decision that Pascal will not be driving in the first test in Barcelona. We will monitor his medical progress and will then decide on the next steps,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said in a release.
Wehrlein had already confirmed his absence but the team hadn’t, yet. He will be on site though.
“It is a pity that I cannot be in the car during the first test days, but I will be in Barcelona in order to get familiar with the team’s procedures and also to follow the Sauber C36-Ferrari on track,” he said.
Giovinazzi, who made his first test with Ferrari at the tail end of last year, added, “I thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this real, and also Ferrari for allowing me to replace Pascal for test one in Barcelona.”
Although Formula 1 testing doesn’t begin until Monday, several teams have filming days in advance at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona to gather preliminary material ahead of the new year.
The first up of those is Sauber F1 Team, which premiered its new C36 chassis on Monday and has now hit the Barcelona track for filming sessions. The Ferrari-powered car is the 25th in Sauber’s F1 history.
Marcus Ericsson took the initial shakedown with Pascal Wehrlein sidelined owing to his injuries sustained at the Race of Champions. Antonio Giovinazzi is set to fill in at the first test.
Sauber’s released a quick video of the test on its social channels and website, and is linked above.
Sauber F1 Team has revealed its C36 chassis, which takes on a deep blue and white livery to commemorate 25 years in Formula 1 (debuted in 1993) and is a redesign from the ground up according to its new technical director Jorg Zander.
The team scored points only once last year with Felipe Nasr coming ninth at the Brazilian Grand Prix, although those two points were enough to move it ahead of Manor for 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship. Nasr though is replaced by Pascal Wehrlein for the season alongside Marcus Ericsson, with Antonio Giovinazzi set to fill in for Wehrlein at the first test next week in Barcelona.
“We clearly have to improve,” said team principa Monisha Kaltenborn. “With the Sauber C36-Ferrari we have a solid basis as well as the resources to further develop the Sauber C36-Ferrari through the season. This will be important to establish in mid-field.”
Zander described the changes to the car, based on the new 2017 regulations.
“We put greater emphasis on aerodynamic stability as opposed to maximizing downforce,” Zander said. “Basically, big teams also have an advantage when it comes to major changes in the regulations, but when the cards are reshuffled new opportunities always present themselves as well.”
You can read the full release from Sauber here.
Pascal Wehrlein has confirmed that he will miss the first collective Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona later this month through injury.
Wehrlein sustained a neck and back injury after rolling his car during the Race of Champions in Miami last month when he crashed after crossing the finish line at the end of a heat.
Doctors in Miami told Wehrlein to miss the second day of the event as a precaution, but the German is yet to fully recover and will now miss the first pre-season running in Barcelona, set to begin on February 27.
Wehrlein had been due to make his first public appearance for Sauber in Barcelona, having joined the team from Manor following his rookie campaign in 2016.
Sauber is yet to officially announce that Wehrlein will be missing the test, but is set to field Ferrari youngster Antonio Giovinazzi in its second car.
Giovinazzi finished second in the GP2 Series last year and enjoyed his first F1 test with a 2015-spec Ferrari earlier this month at Fiorano.
The Italian driver is likely to share the four days of running in Barcelona with full-season driver Marcus Ericsson, who returns for a third year with Sauber in 2017.
The second pre-season test in Barcelona will begin on March 7, giving Wehrlein almost three weeks to get fully fit in time to make his first appearance for Sauber.
Sauber has confirmed that it will unveil its new Formula 1 car, the C36, on February 20 ahead of the 2017 season.
Sauber finished 10th in last year’s constructors’ championship in what proved to be a season of survival for the Swiss outfit, with its long-term future being secured following a takeover in July.
On Friday, Sauber confirmed that its new car, the C36, would be unveiled on February 20, making it the earliest date yet for a 2017 F1 launch.
Sauber has already confirmed its driver line-up for 2017, with the returning Marcus Ericsson set to be joined by Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein, who enters his second season in F1.
Sauber’s C36 will hit the track in public for the first time on February 27 at the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona, Spain.