Frijns gets Sauber test chance

2012 F1 testing

Posted on

| Written by

Robin Frijns will drive for Sauber during the Young Drivers’ Test at the Yas Marina circuit.

The 21-year-old Dutchman will appear on the first day of the test on the Tuesday after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Frijns goes into the final round of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship this weekend five points behind series leader Jules Bianchi, having led for much of the season.

Esteban Gutierrez will drive for the remaining days, making his fourth appearance for Sauber.

2012 F1 season

Browse all 2012 F1 season articles

Image © Renault/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

35 comments on “Frijns gets Sauber test chance”

  1. Unexpected, but most definetly welcome news! Frijns has made the concientious choice NOT to join the Red Bull talent family because he felt he’d be too restricted in his choices. I was worried for a bit that this might harm his chances for opportunities like this, but good going! Great choice Monisha! Go Robin!

    1. @melkurion

      Frijns has made the concientious choice NOT to join the Red Bull talent family

      Had he been offered the opportunity?

      1. @kieth collantine

        As far as I understand yes, this was reported on a dutch news site a while back, though I don’t remember exactly which one or when

    2. @melkurion
      Frinjs is very fortunate to be able to decide not to join RB, it means he has financial backing, which in nowadays is a privilege. Many drivers without that backing don´t have the opportunity to show what they are capable of, and if they have a less good season (which isn´t difficult to happen because money buys the best seats available) they hardly get a second chance.
      So this RB programme or other similar, have this enormous advantage, drivers just need to focus on driving, they have no concerns over money and they know they have winning material.

      1. Robin Frijns has no financial backing!

        1. Njurb

          I believe I´ve heard that his family owned one of the biggest companies in Holland, the Frijns Industrial Group with business related to oil, energy, cement, etc.
          My guess was that his financial backing came from here…

          1. In all his interviews he says he wants to get in f1 without bringing money.
            correct me if i’m wrong! :-)

          2. Njurb

            Yes I suppose so, in a perfect world where talent counts the most… but that´s not F1, see for instance Kamui Kobayashi, a talented driver that deserves to be in F1 but if he doesn´t bring money to the team we´ll probably watch the races on TV next year!
            So my point is, wanting is one thing but doing so… that´s a different story.
            I leave you with one question – suppose in 2014 he is offered a seat in a middle group team but he has to bring a determined amount of cash, will he refuse that because “he wants to get in f1 without bringing money”?

          3. They don’t have financial backings. He and his manager both told that in an interview in a Dutch paper. They said they would not be paying for a seat because if you do that you’ll never get rid off it. If he doesn’t make it into F1 with just raw talent, he doesn’t make it into F1 at all..

  2. Frijns is young, quick, was largely unknown at the start of the season, has no support from any Formula 1 team, but has stolen the limelight from other highly-rated drivers in Formula Renault. A future in Formula 1 seems to be inevitable.

    I wonder if Williams or Sauber might consider giving him a drive next year. Both are well-monied; Pastor Maldonado’s sponsorship from PDVSA is widely believed to increase with each passing year, while Sauber have confirmed that Telmex will continue to sponsor them despite losing Sergio Perez to McLaren, which means that both could afford to take an under-funded-but-promising second driver. Both have seats that are known to be open; Williams announced that they have “several” options for next year, despite the assumption that Valtteri Bottas will race for them sooner, rather than later. Meanwhile, while it’s widely believed that Nico Hulkenberg will move to Sauber and even though Esteban Gutierrez has been linked to the second seat, his place with the team currently looks to be no more secure than Kamui Kobayashi’s.

    The only concern is that while Frijns’ rise as been as astronomical as it has been unexpected, it may be too soon to step up to Formula 1. But he won Formula BMW in his second season (he was third in his first year), won Formula Renault 2.0 in his first season, and is currently second in his first season of Formula Renault 3.5 with three wins, four poles and a string of podiums to his name, giving him a genuine shot at the title. He’s young enough that he could afford to take an extra season in Formula Renault 3.5 if he had to wait for a Formula 1 seat, but I honestly think he could join a team full-time next year and be one of the big surprises. A Hulkenberg-Frijns line-up at Sauber would be particularly interesting and exciting.

    1. @prisoner-monkeys I know what you mean about experience but based on their 2012 seasons I’d take Frijns over Gutierrez. Which I certainly didn’t think I’d be saying 12 months ago.

      1. Gutierrez’s sloppy 2012 season was something I meant to mention when I said his supposed deal to join the team was no more secure than Kobayashi’s, but I forgot.

        Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree – I’d definately take Frijns, though I suspect that for 2013, he’ll take on a role more along the line of what Bottas is doing this year.

    2. I agree that is would be a huge surprise, but I also agree it would probably be too soon for Frijns. He has a lot to gain by driving in the lower classes for one more seaon in my oppinion, perhaps a second year in FR 3.5 if he doesn”t take the title, or if he does , maybe in GP2. If he can repeat his stellar first season record in GP2 next year and finish in the top 3 of that chamionship, then team will be lining up to scoop him up in 2014 I think

      1. I think GP2 would be a mistake. This year’s championship was pretty weak to the point where Formula Renault 3.5 has surpassed it in terms of talent and competition.

      2. Yes, if Frijns got a test drive and went to most of the Grands Prix, he could combine it with racing in 3.5 – but not GP2. And if Bianchi beats him to the title, I’m sure he’d want another crack at it, if he can’t race in F1.

        Maybe Sauber don’t want to deny their race drivers practice time. Otherwise I’m sure they’d have given Gutierrez a Friday morning run by now. There are many good reasons not to – A new driver in the second race seat would need all the practice he can get; Sauber don’t have a simulator; Bruno Senna.

  3. I’m hoping Frijns continues to impress, and that we can see him race in F1 in the not too distant future. As a Dutchman, I’ve had precious few compatriots to cheer on over the years. I think Verstappen was a good driver and racer, though not as fast as e.g. Hakkinen and Schumacher, and his debut (part-time) year with Benetton alongside Schumacher was a career killer. Also, it turned out he wasn’t always a very nice person (allegations of running over his girlfriend a few years ago). Then there were Robert Doornbos and Christijan Albers, who were nothing particularly special, and anyway I couldn’t bear to hear Albers say “maximum attack” one more time.

    So, Frijns then. He seems like a nice young bloke and his record in the junior series is outstanding so far. The only thing that worries me a tad is his tyre management skill. I haven’t watched FR3.5 full time this season, but a recurring theme seemed to be that he started his stints quick, but started to struggle with tyre wear at the end of them. This in contrast to Bianchi, who often started stints in a more restrained fashion, only to come on strong at the end of them. The worst I have seen Frijns struggle with tyres was last race meeting at Paul Ricard, where he got one or two good laps from his rear tyres (in the wet), followed by three or four reasonable ones, followed by increasingly slow ones (as a result, he went from comfortably leading the championship to trailing Bianchi). Even Pirelli tyres don’t degrade that quickly. Still, I guess it’s easier to learn tyre management than it is to learn to be quick.

    1. I feel with you, my fellow Dutchman! Verstappen was nice, although he turned out not to be that great.

      Doornbos showed some promise, but topped out mid grid level, Alberts, hard to tell, but I was glad to see him be replaced to end the pain of it.

      I think though that it would be a bit too early for Frijns to go into F1, and I also think he could benefit from more experience with making tyres work on a drying up track. And don’t forget Nyck de Vries, who is already starring in McLaren’s tooned. He is on the way to get there as well!

    2. Joining the gathering, I wonder what’s true then:
      – on other forums, everybody points at the car which is bad in the rain
      – or tyre management?
      Still, with Barcelona not being Frijns’ favourite track, it’ll be surprising to me if he clinches the title.

      1. He must have had a bad car setup in Paul Ricard that contributed to his tyre wear problems, as he’s also scored decent points and podium(s ?) in other wet races (such as Spa and Silverstone), but I think in general he’s either consciously not saving his tyres, or he’s not that accomplished at it compared to ‘Pirelli veterans’ like Bianchi (by which I mean that Jules had been schooled in the need to save tyres).

      2. @verstappen

        I don´t believe in the bad car theory, as this is a category where the machinery is the same for all.
        Or it´s bad setup or Frinjs simply isn´t very talented for rain conditions.

        1. Well, to be honest, I just really don’t know it. But kept reading about Fortec and rain.
          And as with GP2 some teams are more equal than others. The driver is not the only differentiator. Having said that, I still don’t know it, but keep my fingers crossed that hè Will win, preferably on merit.

  4. Frinjs in my opinion is the revelation of the year, and it´s as remarkable as totally unexpected to be fighting for the WSR 3.5 title against much experienced and rated drivers especially in his rookie season.
    I do think however that is a bit soon to try F1, it would be wiser to have a reserve driver role dong some FP1 alongside with another WSR 3.5 season (don´t do like Bottas, a driver at that age shouldn´t stop racing for a whole season!) or even GP2 which is a competitive category closely followed by the F1 teams.
    So, congratulations for the test and I hope you do well!

  5. As a dutchman who’s seen some dutch drivers fail…i do hope Robin waits for at least 1 more year. Don’t rush into F1, talent is one things, but never forget preparation.

  6. More Dutch people here than I thought :)

    Not sure if Frijns is “ready” for F1, but then, you never do. Whenever he does get there though, I hope he’ll get a decent enough seat to show what he can do, but perhaps low enough down the pecking order that he has to learn to race in F1 as well.

    That, or just do a straight Hamilton and blitz the field from the word go. I’ll take that too.

    In related news, did they put something in the water in NL the 90s or something? After years of nothing much (apologies to Doornbos and Albers), suddenly there’s Robin Frijns and Nyck De Vries and I think Beitske Visser might actually be able to make it into F1 as well, on talent and speed (as opposed to anatomical configuration). It’ll be a while before we start rivalling the Finns for results, but in the drivers per head of the population stakes, we must be getting close now.

    1. Beitske Visser? Never heard of him/her. I’m dutch as well by the way, but I’ve already been counted in the dutchy-count, because posted this afternoon under TX2012. I wasn’t at home and couldn’t find my password and stuff to log in.

      1. @Txizzle Beitske drove in Formula Adac this year for Team Lotus, having graduated from karts last year. She’s won 2 races in her rookie season, but also had a couple of big shunts, one of which she broke her back (and then won the race the next day before being her back had been properly diagnosed) and then she broke her hand in the second to last race making the last one a bit tricky.

        Oh, heck, read for yourself ;)

        1. Breaking your back and then winning the next race….
          I’ve heard a lot of stories, but this really is a novelty. WOW.
          Thanks for the info.

          1. It would be really great to see someone like hear reach the toplevels of racing.

  7. I think Frijns has a cmpetitive future in Formula 1! Seeing what he has achieved already purely based on talent, and not by a massive financial backing (buying good seats). Though I think its difficult to join F1 in the current situation, lots of drivers with (average) talent, lots of drivers with money, but no drivers won FR 2.0 and FR 3.5 back to back in their Rookie year!!

    I hope he will show good pace in the Sauber and in the Red Bull at the F1 Rookie test and might get a race seat for 2013! Else I dont know, another year FR 3.5 doesnt help a lot. In the GP2 he also has everything to loose, but they say GP2 is a step back? If hes confident: I say do it, become a test driver for a F1 team, win the GP2 title in 2013 and get used to the F1 tracks and Pirelli tyres and he will have a F1 racing seat in 2014 for sure!

    Thats my 50 cents! Btw, can we get Robin Frijs in the “One to watch” collum? He deserved it!

    Sorry for my not to good english ;)

  8. davidnotcoulthard
    19th October 2012, 16:52

    Let’s see if he’ll do a Kimi Raikkonen-esque entry, and if a big team hires him a year later.

  9. Good news for him and he’s happened upon a pretty good car to have a go in as well.

Comments are closed.