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Sauber confirms Gutierrez for 2013 race drive

ESPN Staff
November 23, 2012 « Caterham signs Pic from 2013 | De la Rosa focusing on job amid HRT uncertainty »
Esteban Gutierrez will join Nico Hulkenberg at Sauber © Sutton Images

Sauber has confirmed Esteban Gutierrez will drive for its team next year after the news slowly leaked out over recent weeks.

Gutierrez will join Nico Hulkenberg to complete Sauber's race line-up, with World Series by Renault champion Robin Frijns securing the reserve drive. Gutierrez came third in the GP2 championship this year and has completed several F1 tests with the team going back to its days under BMW ownership in 2009.

"Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely," team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said. "In 2010 we signed him up as an affiliated driver, and in 2011 and 2012 he was our test and reserve driver. We mapped out his path to Formula One step by step. Esteban has great talent and now he's ready to take the leap. We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season with Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez."

Gutiérrez added: "After three years working with Sauber I feel very grateful for all the attention I have received from everyone in the team and for all their input, which has allowed me to develop into a Formula One driver in a very progressive way. Now, after experiencing other categories of racing as an introduction to Formula One, this is the start of the real challenge to succeed at the pinnacle of motor sport. The support from my family, as well as from my sponsors, has been a key factor in getting there and I am very grateful to everyone who has been involved in our project. It will be a great pleasure to be racing in the same team as an experienced driver like Nico Hülkenberg. He will be a good reference point for me and will push me to adapt quickly to F1 competition so we can develop the car together with the team in the best way."

Still up in the air...

  • Caterham: Charles Pic confirmed, second driver open
    Force India: Paul di Resta expected but not confirmed, second driver open
    HRT: De la Rosa contracted, second driver open
    Lotus: Second driver expected to be Grosjean but not confirmed
    Marussia: Glock contracted, second driver open
    Williams: Maldonado expected but not confirmed, second driver open but expected to be Valtteri Bottas
The news has left Kamui Kobayashi with few options for a 2013 drive and Kaltenborn thanked him for his three years at the team.

"I would very much like to say a few words about Kamui Kobayashi as well. Over the last three years Kamui has shown us he is not only a fierce competitor on the track, but also a wonderful person and fantastic team player. Every member of our team has the greatest respect for him, and his podium in Japan was a particularly emotional moment for all of us. This has not been an easy decision for us to take, but we have committed ourselves to a new beginning and our time with Kamui will come to an end after the final two races of the season. We wish Kamui all the best for the future. Our thanks also go to Sergio Pérez, who has claimed three podiums for the team so far and now has the opportunity at McLaren-Mercedes to display his immense talent with one of the most successful teams in Formula One history. We would also like to wish Sergio all the best and every success for the future."

She also welcomed new reserve driver Frijns: "Monitoring Robin's racing career makes it easy to spot his potential. This was the reason we gave him the chance to drive the Sauber C31-Ferrari at the Young Driver Days in Abu Dhabi. He managed this very well. We will now carefully guide him to Formula One. This is a long way, but Robin has got the skills to do that successfully."

Frijns added: "I'm very happy the Sauber F1 Team has given me this opportunity. I would like to thank Monisha Kaltenborn and Peter Sauber for their belief and trust in me by signing me to join their team as a test and reserve driver. With this opportunity I will try to help the team as much as possible and get the chance to learn how Formula 1 works in an extremely professional environment. I am already very much looking forward to getting the 2013 season started and working together with the team."