Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn believes Pascal Wehrlein should have been commended rather than come in for "appalling" and "weird" criticism for pulling out of the Australian Grand Prix.
Wehrlein injured his back during the Race of Champions in January and was unable to take part in the first test in Barcelona ahead of the new Formula One season.
The German withdrew from the opening race of the year before free practice in Melbourne on Saturday and was replaced by reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi.
Team principal Kaltenborn leapt to the defence of the 22-year-old following his absence at Albert Park.
She told Motorsport.com: "He just needs time. I think it is really awful how people think they have any sort of competence to say anything about him.
"They just have their weird views from wherever they come and have no authority at all to judge over anyone. I think it is rather appalling how people think they can judge this and they should look at themselves first.
"It takes a lot for someone so ambitious to openly admit and say, 'Guys, in these circumstances, I cannot cover the entire race distance'.
"So one should rather appreciate that kind of openness and honesty, which is not easy to maintain with the kind of pressure these guys have."