Silvestro just a 'marketing move' - Sirotkin
Sauber test driver Sergey Sirotkin says he does not think Simona de Silvestro is a credible threat to his chances of landing a race seat as he believes she is at the team for marketing purposes only.
Sirotkin, 18, looked set at one point last year to be handed a race seat as part of Sauber's partnership with Russian investors and technology companies, but had to settle for a test drive instead so he could continue to compete in Formula Renault 3.5. Silvestro's test for Sauber earlier this year fuelled speculation she may be the first woman to enter an F1 world championship since Giovanna Amati in 1992, but Sirotkin does not believe his chances have been hampered.
"At Sauber, we have a third pilot, Guido van der Garde, a test-pilot - that's me - and there is the sponsored racer [Silvestro], the person whom they are helping to reach the level of F1, which is, I think, rather more of a marketing move," he told f1news.ru. "I do not take this as something to be afraid of. Let's see what will happen next."
With the inaugural Russian Grand Prix taking place on October 12 this year Sirotkin fancies his chances of showing Sauber what he can do in a Friday session this season.
"I was actually supposed to participate in free practice not only in Sochi, but it is an open question. Obviously, in terms of marketing, public interest and so on, the logical thing is to do it in Sochi, but we cannot yet say whether this will happen in Sochi or the next track.
"At the moment, my priority is World Series by Renault, so I do not plan to give preference to other cases in F1 if they can complicate my task or hinder my performance in this championship. It may give the impression that there was a lull but, in fact, it is not.
"I am constantly in contact with the team and, after the race at the Nurburgring, the World Series will begin a long break, so I think then it will be possible that we will work directly on joint activities. Some steps we have already decided, but I cannot speak about any others until Sauber makes a statement. In any case, it makes no sense to talk about it because I am fully engaged in the World Series."