Pascal Wehrlein ousted by Ferrari favourite

Once again the Mercedes junior will miss a Grand Prix, this time China and very likely Bahrain a week later.

Pascal’s replacement, Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi impressed TJ13 readers (The Jury) coming in second behind Vettel in the Driver of the Weekend Poll in Australia. And yet there was a sniff of chin rubbing in the paddock from pundits and observers, when the news that Pascal Wehrlein declined to drive for Sauber in the Australian opener.

Ex racers Brundle and Mansell were particularly vocal about how they’d have raced regardless and never given up their seats. Further, the doctors in Australia cleared Pascal as fit to race prior to any running.

The official line is that due to lack of fitness, Pascal’s long run times in FP1 & 2 in Australia were wildly inconsistent, revealing a lack of fitness training. Most have mentioned the crash sustained during the Race of Champions prior to season start as another reason for the fitness issues, even suggesting a hidden hairline fracture injury. Again, all very likely.

“For me the most important is that I can train intensively to ensure a 100% performance from my side as soon as possible. I will then be well-prepared for my first complete Grand Prix weekend for the Sauber F1 Team. Hopefully this can be in Bahrain but, if not, then we will take the time it needs until Russia to make sure I am completely ready.” admits the German Mercedes junior.

One cannot ignore the fact that the collapse of Manor F1, a Mercedes outfit, has had some influence on what’s occurring here. A proxy war as such. There was great surprise when it was announced that Mercedes’ man Pascal Wehrlein signed for the Ferrari ‘junior’ team Sauber for 2017. It was likely he’d stayed with Manor had they survived, after missing out to Bottas for Rosberg’s seat at the senior team.

Further, during winter testing he covered up the Mercedes logo with duct tape on his helmet during his contributions to Sauber. A political move by Sauber or one mandated by Ferrari?

Whatever is happening at Sauber, they’re not unaccustomed to ‘interesting’ driver swops and changes, Giedo van der Garde is case in point.

The next few weeks will likely reveal the truth once the race in Bahrain is done.

7 responses to “Pascal Wehrlein ousted by Ferrari favourite

  1. “For me the most important is that I can train intensively to ensure a 100% performance from my side as soon as possible. I will then be well-prepared for my first complete Grand Prix weekend for the Sauber F1 Team. Hopefully this can be in Bahrain but, if not, then we will take the time it needs until Russia to make sure I am completely ready.”

    didn’t even notice until I read this a second time, but the “if not” in this sentence is highly suspicious. Is it also weird that he is no longer talking about China, but skips to Bahrein? We are talking about a young person: sportsman like this recuperate from something small in a week- 2 weeks. Skipping to Bahrein means 4 weeks… Either his physical fitness in Melbourne was total crap to need to build it up over 4 weeks, or something big is the matter.

    Something big: either there is a head/neck/back problem, or there is a political issue between Mercedes and Ferrari, and Ferrari is trying to keep Giovinazzi in, or Wehrlein out. The latter seems strange: Sauber is running a 2016 engine, so not the latest. It is more likely Ferrari has seen Mercedes’ problem to replace Rosberg, and decided it best that one of “their’s” gained some experience.

  2. Niki Lauda was almost burned to death at the German GP an was back racing at Monza 5 weeks later.

    If it is a medical issue you would have to conclude it’s fairly serious for a driver to miss three consecutive races. On the other hand, Wehrlein was snubbed by Force India partially for his inablilty to get on with the team. There may also have been changes in Sauber,s direction. Rumoured to have been ready to sign with Honda for 2018 that may not be in the cards now with Honda’s performance so far and possibly Honda leaving F1, and maybe Ferrari have offered them a deal on their latest engines and money to give Giovinazzi seat. There’s also a curious lack of support for him from M-B.

    • Wehrlein’s little tumble in the tricycle at the RoC was no big deal. Compare it to Alonso’s Melbourne crash last year. He missed one race and was back in China 27 days later. If Wehrlein is not likely to race before Sochi, that will be 98 days after the RoC. I suspect F1 will soon show its ruthless side.

      • I thought that there was some suggestion that the RoC crash aggravated a previous injury. Whatever the truth if would seem that Wehrlein is no longer flavour of the month either with Mercedes or Sauber. Had Manor continued he could have had another season there an maybe enhanced his prospects but he is now in danger of becoming another Chilton or Harianto. Being the next big thing is a fleeting concept in F1 and there are new contenders appearing at a steady rate. It is dog eat dog.

        • I’d say he was only the flavour of the month at Sauber because of the Mercedes cheque he came with and Mercedes have Ocon as a backup now, so Pascal is just excess

        • This speculation might fill virtual space, but has little substance. PW still is a Mercedes junior driver. He should be commended for his absence of ego and lack of Mansell-esque arrogance, in recusing himself from the first 3 or 4 race weekends of the season, for the benefit of his team.

          Among all the tin-foil hat conspiracy theories, who’s bothered to pay attention and notice that Sauber are running a previous-generation engine, in an uncompetitive car?

          What does the mighty and wealthy Ferrari have to gain from a driver, so far removed from a factory seat he may as well be on Mars, receiving this alleged “special treatment”?

          For those who’s attention has been diverted, Ferrari have a clear “B” team these days – called Haas.

          Ferrari will need another decent driver for 2018, as Kimi won’t continue to get away with his lackluster performances, and must retire some time. And no honest, observant or qualified F1 journalist expects the 2018 seat to go to a Ferrari junior driver!

          Next season Ferrari will need a dependable Rubens or Irvine type. They’ve got Grosjean at Haas if needs be, but historically Ferrari have never struggled to attract drivers from other teams – even if they’ve previouslly had different engine and/or chassis manufacturer allegiances.

          QED: any conspiracy theories that Ferrari are forcing Sauber to run “their” driver, in a car with an outdated engine – is obviously nonsense.

          The fact that Sauber is currently considering changing to Mercedes or Honda power for 2018, further discredits this cheap and nasty story! If Sauber are content to suffer a Honda PU in 2018, it doesn’t exactly suggest they are especially tight with their current PU supplier…

          Sauber have lost those Ferrari ties. Their best interests for the long term survival of the team, is that they use an experienced driver line-up to score some lucky points early in the 2017 season – whilst better teams are still struggling to make their new chassis+PU package work.

          The only “proxy war” going on here, is reality vs sensationalist pseudo-news clickbait.

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