The are reports from the Swiss media, specifically the newspaper Blick, which is usually rather antagonistic towards Sauber, which suggests that Pascal Wehrlein may not be able to test in the next few weeks because of neck injuries suffered when he rolled one of the cars in the Race of Champions event in Miami last month. Blick revealed that Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi is having a seat fitting at Sauber and may stand in for the Mercedes driver. Giovinazzi may also be used in some Friday sessions in 2017, because of the team’s links with Ferrari. If the Italian team is willing to knock some money off its engine bills, Sauber will no doubt agree.
A lot of F1 teams do not allow their drivers to be engaged in dangerous activities in the offseason, because of the problems that can result, such as Robert Kubica’s career-ending crash in a rally in 2011. However, it is not clear whether Wehrlein has a Sauber contract or a Mercedes contract, or both. It may be that he is employed by Mercedes and is being loaned to Sauber, in exchange for payments that allow the young German to get experience in F1.