Sauber have confirmed that GP2 runner up Antonio Giovinazzi will replace Pascal Wehrlein for the first pre-season test in Barcelona.
The German injured his back at a crash during the Race of Champions in Miami in January. Medical examinations on Wehrlein have been taking place ever since to follow his recovery.
It is as yet unclear as to whether or not Wehrlein will be fit to drive during the second test, taking place from March 7-10, or even the first race of the season in Australia on March 26.
“We took the decision that Pascal will not be driving in the first test in Barcelona,” said team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.
“We will monitor his medical progress and will then decide on the next steps.”
Giovinazzi first drove a Formula One car earlier this month when he tested Ferrari’s 2015 SF15H at their Fiorano test track.
The Italian is currently Ferrari’s reserve driver, but it is understood that Sauber are working out a deal with Ferrari to allow him to also be their reserve driver.
“I thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this real, and also Ferrari for allowing me to replace Pascal for test one in Barcelona,” Wehrlein said.
Sauber were the first team to officially launch their car, and have already completed a filming day in Barcelona.
Pre-season testing will begin on February 27 at the Circuit de Catalunya.