After missing the season’s first two rounds to recuperate from injury, Pascal Wehrlein finally made his first Saturday appearance for Sauber in Bahrain - and duly clinched the team’s best qualifying result since Brazil 2015.
Wehrlein hails ‘great comeback’ after impressive qualifying run
My longest run this year was I think 18 or 20 laps, so I don’t really know how the car behaves in the race distance
Wehrlein’s 13th-fastest time in Sakhir was over a second quicker than that of team mate Marcus Ericsson, who failed to join the German in Q2 and is set to start Sunday’s race from 19th.
“Yeah it was a great comeback - I’m really happy about this,” said Wehrlein, who damaged his back in a Race of Champions crash back in January.
“I could improve session by session since yesterday. We have always done the right step in the right direction in terms of set-up. I’m feeling more confident in the car with every lap, and I’m just really happy about the result.”
Wehrlein said he was still suffering from some back pain, and admitted that Sunday’s race will be a step into the unknown, given his lack of long runs in the car to date.
“I feel it, but in the car it doesn’t really bother me,” he added. “I think I will be fine in the race. Of course it’s hard, but it’s hard for everyone.
“In terms of performance, I don’t really know what to expect because my longest run this year was I think 18 or 20 laps, so I don’t really know how the car behaves in the race distance. But I will try to maximise the result, do my best and have fun.”
In his previous 21 Grand Prix outings - all with Manor last year - Wehrlein’s best finish was a 10th place in Austria. He came 13th in Bahrain in 2016.