Kurt Verlin
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Pascal Wehrlein Gives Up His Seat Again and May Not Be Back Until Russia

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Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein was fortunate to find a seat in Formula 1 for the 2017 season after his former team declared bankruptcy, but it may be a while before he actually comes back to sit in it.

While representing Germany alongside fellow F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, Wehrlein flipped his car and suffered a back injury, which—though healed—prevented him from improving his overall fitness for several weeks in preparation for the 2017 F1 season.

This is proving to be a major problem for Wehrlein as the 2017 cars are much faster than the year before; the drivers can now experience up to 6.5 g in the corners and braking zones, which requires peak fitness levels to be able to endure for hours at a time throughout a Grand Prix weekend.

After putting in 192 laps at Barcelona during pre-season testing, where he said he was “taking it easy,” Wehrlein chose to opt out of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix that took place just under two weeks ago. At the time he said he would be back for the Chinese Grand Prix this upcoming weekend, but the German has now announced that would not be the case.

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Sauber F1 Team at the 2017 Australian GP

“For me the most important is that I can train intensively to ensure a 100 percent performance from my side as soon as possible,” he said. “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.”

The Russian Grand Prix is the fourth round in the 2017 Formula 1 calendar. Missing up to a fifth of the season may hurt Wehrlein long-term prospects in the sport; after being passed over for the Mercedes and Force India seats that were available for 2017, he needs positive momentum now more than ever rather than the opposite.

What’s more, his temporary replacement at Sauber—Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi—looked quite strong at the Australian Grand Prix despite having been parachuted in short-notice on the morning of qualifying. If given more opportunity to prove himself, his name may very well come up during the mid-season when driver contracts tend to be discussed.

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Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.