Pascal Wehrlein looks set to be sidelined from his first Formula 1 pre-season test with Sauber while he continues his recovery from his back injury.
Ferrari third driver and last year’s GP2 Series runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi (pictured below right) is expected to deputise in Wehrlein’s place during the test, which starts on February 27.
Wehrlein suffered injuries in an accident competing at the Race of Champions in Miami, where he rolled his car after colliding with Felipe Massa.
While the German was able to walk away from the accident, subsequent tests have confirmed the extent of his injuries and it is believed he has been advised to skip the first pre-season test to aid his recovery.
The Sauber team is yet to officially confirm the news while it awaits the results of further medical examinations that will be conducted closer to the test itself.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn is understood to have been in talks with Ferrari counterpart Maurizio Arrivabene to secure Giovinazzi’s services as a stand-in driver.
Kaltenborn is believed to be interested in having Giovinazzi as a reserve driver this year, and would be willing to run him across a number of Friday practice sessions to give him more cockpit experience. There would be little doubt that, as Ferrari’s longstanding engine customer, Sauber might leverage a discount to its engine bill as part of the negotiation process.
Images via Scuderia Ferrari and XPB Images