Wehrlein reveals Sauber expected him to miss opening four races due to injury

Pascal Wehrlein was expected to be out for four races but returned after missing just two - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Pascal Wehrlein has revealed that his Sauber F1 Team had expected his back injury to prevent him from racing until at least the Spanish Grand Prix, so he was happy to come back ahead of schedule.

The German suffered a back injury in a crash during the Race of Champions in January, and despite participating in pre-season testing and free practice at the Australian Grand Prix, Wehrlein withdrew due to fitness concerns to be replaced by Italian Antonio Giovinazzi.

He also sat out the Chinese Grand Prix but was back in the car for the Bahrain Grand Prix, meaning he was only out for two races as opposed to the four his team expected him to miss.

“The team thought that my first race would be Barcelona,” said Wehrlein to Motorsport.com. “For me there was no point.

“I couldn’t believe that I would skip four races, so I said: earlier than Barcelona.”

Driver physiotherapist Josef Leberer aided Wehrlein during his recovery, and he attributes his quick return to the Austrian, and believes that without his help, he would have been out of the seat for longer than just two races.

“To work with Josef, someone with so much experience, who is so successful in this sport and so many titles and working together with many, many great drivers is, of course, good for me because I learn a lot from his experience,” said Wehrlein.

“When he told me things like that Barcelona should be my first race, for me this was a big motivation to say: ‘No, it’s not Barcelona, it’s before Barcelona.’

“And then to prove them also right that I’m doing everything, I’m pushing very hard to come back earlier than this, this was a big motivation for me.

“Of course he helped me everywhere he could with all his experience. I think without all the support I was getting I probably wouldn’t be back now still.”