Antonio Giovinazzi, GP2, Monza, 2016

Giovinazzi confirmed as Wehrlein’s test replacement

2017 F1 season

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Antonio Giovinazzi will drive instead of Pascal Wehrlein in the first pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya, Sauber has confirmed.

Wehrlein has been forced to stand down from the test due to a back injury he suffered in a crash at the Race of Champions in Miami last month. “We took the decision that Pascal will not be driving in the first test in Barcelona,” said team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. “We will monitor his medical progress and will then decide on the next steps.”

It remains to be seen whether Wehrlein will be fit in time for the second four-day test, which starts just five days after the first one finishes.

Giovinazzi, who finished runner-up in GP2 last year, is Ferrari’s reserve driver. He has been given permission from them to drive for Sauber, which is one of the team’s engine customers.

“I thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this real, and also Ferrari for allowing me to replace Pascal for test one in Barcelona,” said Giovinazzi. The 23-year-old drove an F1 car for the first time at Fiorano three weeks ago.

Wehrlein, who joined the team from Manor at the end of last year, said he will still attend the test which begins on Monday.

“It is a pity that I cannot be in the car during the first test days,” he said, “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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 4 comments on “Giovinazzi confirmed as Wehrlein’s test replacement”

    1. A good news for him! I hope he trained well in the winter. Glad he’s got some mileage in f1 machinery!

      1. Yes. I think there will have been a lot of reserve drivers putting in extra effort when they heard Wehrlein was injured in the hope of clocking up some driving hours, and hardly any F1 drivers being available for non-F1 races.

    2. If Wehrlein misses the second test I think there’s a good possibility he won’t race in Australia.

      1. One question is how much benefit will Sauber get from the extra lead time they got by using last year’s Ferrari engine. The time when they will get the biggest benefit would be in the first races of the season, meaning this is their best chance of the year to score points. If that benefit does pay off, then Giovinazzi is in the best place to be. If he can earn some points then it will certainly add some kudos to his CV.
        Conversely, the question for Sauber is how different is his ability to Wehrlein’s, and can he convert the benefit of the extra lead time into points?

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