Wehrlein to do Friday practice in China

Pascal Wehrlein will return to the cockpit of his Sauber this Friday in Shanghai.

That is the claim of the Italian media, after the German apparently voluntarily withdrew from the Melbourne season opener citing a lack of fitness following his winter back injury.

Wehrlein, backed by Mercedes, was replaced for qualifying and the race by Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who went on to impress.

But the young Italian said he would be back on duty for Ferrari in China.

"I will be in China dressed in red," said Giovinazzi. "Then we'll see."

However, it emerged subsequently that Giovinazzi will in fact remain on standby for Ferrari-powered Sauber as well.

Ferrari had intended to use the 2016 GP2 runner-up during the 'young driver' tests after Bahrain, but if he races again he will be ineligible.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said last week that Ferrari has agreed to release Giovinazzi to Sauber for the China-Bahrain double header if necessary.

But it appears Sauber's plan is to put Wehrlein back in the car, at least initially in China.

La Gazzetta dello Sport, as well as other Italian sources, report that the 22-year-old will definitely be back in the Swiss team's blue and gold car on Friday morning.

"The session will be to understand if Wehrlein is able to do the grand prix on Sunday or whether it will once again be Giovinazzi," the newspaper report said.

(GMM)

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