• Sauber

Sauber drops plan to race Russian teenager in 2014

ESPN Staff
December 22, 2013 « Sauber confirms Gutierrez for 2014 | Double points for final three races or none at all - Ecclestone »
Sergey Sirotkin is just 18 years old © Sutton Images

Sauber has dropped its plan to offer Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin his debut in 2014, instead offering him in the test driver role for next season.

As one element of a partnership with Russian investors and technology companies, Sirotkin was supposed to be given a race seat at Sauber for 2014. However, the 18-year-old has not yet attained a Formula One superlicense and instead will spend a year as an apprentice to race drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez while continuing to race in Formula Renault 3.5.

"We have been working with Sergey since August, and he has been able to gain more and more insight into Formula One," Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said. "Now he is taking the next step towards the top level of motorsport in his new role as a test driver. Our experience of him is as a very focused, calm and talented driver. Now we will continue to support him, including obtaining his super license. Our goal remains to prepare him for a debut in Formula One."

In late September Sirotkin drove a demo-run for Sauber at the new track in Sochi, which will host the Russian Grand Prix in 2014, and in October he tested a 2009 Ferrari at Fiorano. However, Sirotkin said he was content to remain in Formula Renault 3.5 for another year to gain experience.

"It's a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 Team," he said. "I will work hard to improve myself and to extract the maximum out of this opportunity. Formula One is very complex, so it is important to get an opportunity like this. My main focus next year, however, will be the World Series by Renault, which is very competitive. This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step."