Pascal Wehrlein says he does not care about the criticism he received for missing the opening two races of the 2017 Formula 1 season.
The Sauber driver's pre-season build-up was disrupted by a big accident in January's Race of Champions (pictured below) in which he sustained back injuries.
After missing weeks of training, Mercedes junior Wehrlein felt he was not fit enough to compete, given the new more demanding F1 cars, and chose to withdraw from the Australian GP following Friday practice.
He missed China too, in order to allow himself more time to train, and was replaced by Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi on both occasions.
Sauber team boss Monica Kaltenborn rubbished insinuations of a wider conspiracy behind Wehrlein's absence, and Wehrlein was dismissive when asked for his thoughts on the comments ahead of his return in Bahrain this weekend.
"I don't care too much what the others say," said Wehrlein.
"They didn't know my situation and they were commenting on my situation.
"For me, it was the right decision and it was felt together with Monisha and [Mercedes chief] Toto [Wolff].
"What the other drivers think, it's their stuff.
"If you don't know what injury someone had, you shouldn't criticise him.
"It's quite simple. If it was just some muscle pain or anything else, do you think Sauber or Mercedes would accept me to not drive?"
Wehrlein said he was unable to train for four weeks, having fractured three vertebrae in his back.
While not racing, Wehrlein has done "quite intense training" plus a day in the Mercedes simulator at Brackley and another in the AVL facility in Graz that Sauber has use of.
Asked if he would assess his fitness to compete on Sunday after practice, Wehrlein replied: "No, I will be OK."
He added: "It's my first race this year and normally the more races you do, the easier it gets.
"I think I'll be fine in the car. No pain - that's the most important thing.
"The track is also quite flat, not many bumps."