FIA F1 - Gutierrez Lands 2013 Ride With Sauber
Interlagos, Nov. 25, 2012: Sauber have finalised their line-up for the 2013 season with confirmation that test and reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez is to be promoted to the team’s second race seat. The 21-year old Mexican will partner the recently-confirmed Nico Hulkenberg, who joins Sauber from Force India.
Dutchman Robin Frijns has also been signed as the Swiss squad’s new test and reserve, leaving current racer Kamui Kobayashi, who has been at Sauber since 2010, without a confirmed drive for 2013.“Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely,” said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. “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 Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.”
Gutierrez began his career in karting. He was runner-up in the 2007 Formula BMW USA series and went on to win the Formula BMW Europe crown a year later. After a spell in the Formula 3 Euro Series, he switched to GP3 in 2010 and stormed to the title with five race wins. Two seasons in GP2 followed, the second of which (in 2012) saw him collect three victories and finish third in the standings. He was given the first of several chances to test for Sauber in 2009 and his most recent outing for the team was at the young driver test in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
“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,” commented Gutierrez. “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 Hulkenberg. 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.”
Frijns, also 21, started his career in karting too. In 2008 he entered single-seater racing, improved constantly and went on to win the Formula BMW Europe title in 2010 by taking six race wins. One year later he took the title in the Formula Renault Eurocup before going on to win the title in the highly competitive Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2012.
“Monitoring Robin’s racing career,” said Kaltenborn, “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 commented: “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 One 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.”
Kaltenborn also paid tribute to the Sauber’s current drivers, stating: “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 Perez, 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.”