Sauber confirm Gutierrez to make race debut in 2013

2013 F1 season

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Esteban Gutierrez will make his F1 race debut with Sauber in 2013, the team have confirmed.

Gutierrez has spent the last two years in GP2, finishing third in the series this year.

He will partner Nico Hulkenberg at the team, giving Sauber an all-new driver line-up for 2013.

Sauber also confirmed Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns will take over from Gutierrez as the team’s test and reserve driver.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said: “Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely.

“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.”

Outgoing Sauber driver Sergio Perez accidentally revealed yesterday Gutierrez would be joining the team.

“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,” said 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.”

New test driver Frijns said: “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 1 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 said: “Monitoring Robin’s racing career 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.”

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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...

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22 comments on “Sauber confirm Gutierrez to make race debut in 2013”

  1. Oh well, at least Frijns’ foot is in the door now.

    1. @roald – I never expected Frijns to get a race seat this year. His rise through the junior ranks has been phenomenal to say the least, but ever since he showed himself as a title contender in Formula Renault 3.5, I’ve had to wonder where the gaps in his knowledge and his racecraft are. It’s inevitable that he will be missing something, so putting the brakes on his career and getting him to take a season as a development and reserve driver is a smart move. He’s young; he can afford to spend a season on the sidelines. He’ll join the 2014 as a smarter and sharper driver for it, instead of simply being thrown in the deep end with only the vaguest idea of how to swim.

      1. I don’t understand why you chose to quote me. The article says Frijns is Sauber’s reserve- and testdriver from next year on and I’m happy about that. I didn’t say I expected him to get a race seat already, because I agree with you, it’d probably be too soon. I’n just glad he’s “in” now.

        1. @roald@prisoner-monkeys probably mentioned you(as I’m doing to you and him now) because he wanted you to see his comment. Otherwise you would not have gotten a notification regarding his comment. I hope I’m right.

  2. Like Maldonado in 2011, Gutierrez is a promising driver who happens to have financial backing. We shouldn’t let the latter blind us to the former. Though it must be said he was underwhelming in GP2 this year. Still, I believe he has potential.

    1. Let’s indeed hope he proves a very good replacement for Perez.

    2. @keithcollantine – I’m not sure if “underwhelming” is the word I would use for it. He was occasionally disappointing and sometimes frustrating to watch, but he improved considerably from 2011. There’s definite potential there, even if his development has been slow.

      I’d say he’s halfway between Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado when they graduated from GP2. When Hamilton was racing, you knew he would make it into Formula 1; GP2 was a mere formality. Maldonado, on the other hand, had a perpetual question mark floating over his year, given that he came with the backing of an oil company and won his title in a year when six drivers from the previous season – most of them very competitive – graduated to Formula 1, creating a vaccuum at the front of the grid.

      I think Gutierrez has enough talent to justify a place in Formula 1, but he needs to make good on it because that’s what’s going to be under the microscope.

    3. Last year I thought Guttierez would be an instant hit and though it might even be a mistake for Sauber to take Perez, whom I had not heard / seen much about. I saw Perez as more because of money than skill, just like Maldonado when he got the Williams drive.

      But this year both Maldonado and Perez have shown that they are well worth the money put behind them, so I hope that Guttierez can follow up on that. And the news that Frijns was picked up by talent nurturer Sauber must also be considered as a big plus.

    4. Gutierrez is one of my favourite drivers outside of F1. He didn’t do everything which was expected from him this year but I really hope he can quickly improve in 2013 and I hope the Sauber can fight for podiums again. I’m also happy that someone with Frijns’ talent has found an F1 role, but I’m sad for Kobayashi who was a fan favourite.

  3. 2013 is going to be so interesting with so many driver changes. I think 2007 was the last season with so many new driver-team pairings. Funny that wholesale driver changes happen when Schumi quits the sport :)

    1. @sumedhvidwans It also happens when he returns. In 2010, the only teams which kept the same driver pairing were Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India. Mercedes(nee Brawn), Ferrari, Williams, Renault and Sauber had completely new lineups for 2010.

  4. Really excited to see how he performs next year, sure he brings a lot of mexican money but he has potential to really succeed.

  5. Terrible day for the silly season! ;)

    Thus far largely unimpressed by Gutierrez, but we’ll see. My nationality played a part of my enthusiasm reading this:

    Sauber also confirmed Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns will take over from Gutierrez as the team’s test and reserve driver.

    Here’s hoping he gets some mileage next year!

    1. To add to that – here’s an interview (done per telephone) with him (I used g-translate from the Dutch original, matches pretty well)

  6. I have to say, it’s kind of an interesting change of pace to see someone admit they don’t know for sure whether they’re ready for F1!

  7. Weird seeing someone say The Hulk is an experienced driver…I guess he is when you think about it, but still weird!

    Fair play to Gutierrez. I remember him sticking out more last year in GP2 than this year, but let’s see how he gets on.

  8. The interview @bascb is referring to is also available in English now ( It says he would like to race next year, but doesn’t have any money to do GP2 or even another year in WSR. Also, as Sauber hasn’t given any Friday time to reserve drivers so far, it might be that Robin doesn’t have much else to do next year than talk. Does Sauber even have a simulator? Still, the reserve driver role might be a good step in case Hulkenberg moves on to greener pastures for 2014.

  9. Gutierrez reminds me of Grosjean, I’m not confident if one of his first statements is: “i don’t know if I am ready for it” . He doesn’t seem mature and with his GP2 performance this year, he seems to me not to be able to concentrate and focus as much as other GP2 drivers.

  10. Gutierrez failed to impress in what was generally considered to be a weak GP2 field in 2012. He got trounced by Valsecchi and Razia and his rookie team mate Calado was far more impressive than him.

    Carlos Slim must be paying big bucks.

  11. Gutierrez does have money behind him, but he also has great talent. Remember he’s only 21 and he finished 3rd in GP2 behind Valsecchi and Razia, both seasoned veterans at that level. Calado may have been more impressive, but Gutierrez still be at him.

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