Toto Wolff has revealed that Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein actually fractured a bone in his back in his race of champions crash during the winter.
Rumours are swirling around the absent German driver in Shanghai, after he missed Australia, China and possibly Bahrain next weekend with an apparent lack of fitness.
“We decided to give Pascal a break with ten days of additional training,” Wolff, who oversees Mercedes’ driver development programme, told the German broadcaster RTL in Shanghai.
“But I’m assuming that he will be in the car in Bahrain,” he added, referring to Wehrlein’s role as race driver for Sauber in 2017.
Wehrlein has been replaced for now by Antonio Giovinazzi, the reserve driver for Sauber’s engine partner Ferrari.
But Wolff played down claims the Wehrlein story has more to do with politics than the 22-year-old’s actual injury.
“In the accident in Miami, Pascal sustained a compression fracture of a neck vertebrae,” the Austrian revealed.
“He is lucky not to have hurt himself further, but he could hardly move for several weeks and had to wear a support. During this time, of course, he could hardly train, which is why he was simply not strong enough to drive these cars over a race distance,” added Wolff.