Pascal Wehrlein returns to the racing seat this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, but the German has dismissed the criticism that has come his way from other drivers since he withdrew from both the Australian and Chinese Grand Prix.
The Sauber F1 Team driver revealed that both Monisha Kaltenborn, the team principal of the Swiss team, and Toto Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, were in full support of his decision, and feels that the other drivers did not know the full extent of the injuries that he suffered in a crash during the Race of Champions in January.
“I don’t care too much what the others said, because they didn’t know my situation,” said Wehrlein. “And they were commenting on my situation. I think for me it was the right decision, and it was felt together with Monisha and with Toto. What the others drivers think, it’s their opinion.
“If you don’t know which injury someone had, you shouldn’t criticise him. It’s quite simple, you know.
“The injury wasn’t something too serious, because I’m fine now, but if it was just some muscle pain, or anything else, do you think that Sauber or Mercedes would accept for me to not drive? Some negative comments I heard. I don’t mind too much.”
Wehrlein has revealed the full extent of his injuries suffered during the crash in Miami, and says it was imperative to rebuild the muscles before returning to the car, and feels much more prepared heading into Bahrain than he did in Australia where he was forced to withdraw.
“I fractured three vertebrae, in the thoracic spine,” said Wehrlein. “I compressed quite a few, but three of them were fractured. Medical wise, everything is good, it’s just the muscles around, they went away, if you can’t do sports for a few weeks, but they are rebuilding quite quickly as well. I’m quite positive.
“I couldn’t move for quite a long time, and of course I was restricted a lot in my training. I lost a lot of muscle, so that was the main focus, to rebuild those muscles.
“I’ve trained a lot, obviously. I was in Austria, close to Salzburg, training with Erwin Gollner. It was quite intense training, so I spent most of the time there, training with him.
“I know where I was in Melbourne and in Barcelona, and I know what weights I could do there, and I know how fit I was there. And also compared to last year. I have quite a good feeling now, where I am today. It gives me a good reference.
“I’m feeling definitely a lot better, so no comparison to Melbourne. I’m now back to where I should be to drive the car properly, and it’s good.”