Pascal Wehrlein feels 'ready' for F1 opener despite lost track time
Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein insists he feels “ready” for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, despite suffering a disrupted build-up to the new Formula 1 campaign.
Mercedes-backed Wehrlein spent his rookie campaign with the now-defunct Manor squad, scoring a point in Austria, before securing a deal to race for Sauber in 2017, alongside Marcus Ericsson.
Wehrlein, though, was forced to miss the opening test as a precaution, due to the back complaint he sustained when he rolled a Polaris Slingshot at the Race of Champions in January.
The German was replaced by Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, ensuring Sauber was able to conduct its programme, before being given the green light to return for the second week of action at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Wehrlein was able to complete 201 laps in the Sauber C36, the only car to be fitted with a 2016-specficiation power unit, as he gears up for the first round of the season.
“It is the beginning of my new role as a Formula 1 race driver at Sauber, and I am sure when those five lights go out it will be a unique moment on the race day,” he said.
“During the second week of pre-season testing I had productive days, where I was able to get quite familiar with the car’s procedures.
“After intense physical preparations in the last few weeks I am excited about going to Melbourne, and I feel ready and well-prepared for the challenging season opener.
“It looks promising at the moment for me, but we never know until we get to Melbourne.”
Wehrlein made his Formula 1 debut at the corresponding event last season and finished in 16th position.