Pascal Wehrlein believes he will be “fine in the car” this weekend as he prepares to contest his first grand prix as a Sauber driver.
Having injured his back when he crashed at the Race of Champions, Wehrlein missed the opening two races of this season as he was not fit enough to race.
The German came in for some stick about it with fellow drivers saying they would not get out of the car for any reason, especially not fitness.
Wehrlein, though, says they don’t know what he was going through.
“I don’t care too much what the others said, because they didn’t know my situation and they were commenting on my situation,” he told reporters in Bahrain.
“For me it was the right decision, together with Monisha [Kaltenborn] and with Toto [Wolff], and what the other drivers think is their stuff. What the others drivers think, it’s their opinion.
“If you don’t know which injury someone had, you shouldn’t criticise him. It’s quite simple, you know.
“If the injury was just some muscle pain, do you think Sauber or Mercedes would accept me to not drive? I couldn’t move for quite a long time”
Explaining his injuries, Wehrlein revealed: “I fractured three vertebrae, in the thoracic spine. I compressed quite a few, but three of them were fractured.
“Medical wise, everything is good, it’s just the muscles around, they went away, if you can’t do sports for a few weeks, but they are rebuilding quite quickly as well. I’m quite positive.
“I couldn’t move for quite a long time, and of course I was restricted a lot in my training. I lost a lot of muscle, so that was the main focus, to rebuild those muscles.”
This weekend’s grand prix, should he take to the starting grid on Sunday, will mark Wehrlein’s first grand prix as a Sauber.
And he is confident there won’t be any issues.
“It’s my first race this year, and normally the more races you do, the easier it gets,” he said.
“But I think I’ll be fine in the car, there’s no pain and that’s the important thing. The track is quite flat with not many bumps. It’s a bit hot – but otherwise it’s okay!”