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Perez fuels Gutierrez/Sauber speculation

ESPN Staff
November 22, 2012 « Grosjean hopes for 'much stronger' 2013 | Caterham signs Pic from 2013 »
Esteban Gutierrez is expected to join Sauber in 2013 © Sutton Images

Although an official announcement has not been made, Esteban Gutierrez looks likely to join Nico Hulkenberg at Sauber in 2013 after current driver Sergio Perez let on that a deal was done during a press briefing in Brazil on Thursday.

Speaking to Spanish press, Perez was quoted by Autosport saying Nico Hulkenberg "will have a strong team-mate in Esteban" next year at Sauber, which followed on from stories in the Mexican press quoting Sauber's financial backer Carlos Slim Domit saying that he expects Gutierrez will get a drive in 2013.

When asked about Slim Domit's comments, team principal Kaltenborn said: "I've heard that now quite often that he's said it. I have not heard it myself and I don't know in what context it was said and I think in this season things are being supposedly said and then they're maybe not said quite like that. So I don't know that and for us it's important that whatever talks we have with our partners are kept between us and we will not comment in public on that."

Kaltenborn said Sauber had to consider both the quality of the driver and the money he can bring to the team when making a decision on its line-up for 2013.

"Generally I think to take a decision on a driver is a strategic decision," she said. "You have to look at the whole picture, which first of all for us depends on the quality of the driver. We did the same critique with Sergio for example and we had many options at that time and we went for Sergio because we were convinced he was a very talented driver. Of course if you are a private team then money should play an important role because the more we have the more we can put in to development and hopefully it ends up in the right performance. You have to look at many aspects and we are open about that."

Meanwhile, Kamui Kobayashi admitted his options are looking slim elsewhere on the grid if he is replaced by Gutierrez.

"It depends on what the situation is like because there are only a few teams left [with open seats], so it's not easy as well," he said. "It's very difficult to talk about any future stuff because with the situation like this, if I say too much then there's no point for them to announce."

He added: "Someone said Monisha will announce this week or something, but I don't know. At the moment I think it's difficult to say. I don't know what they will announce."