Gutierrez to stay at Sauber as Sirotkin gets test drive

2014 F1 drivers and teams

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Esteban Gutierrez will remain at Sauber for a second season in 2014, the team has confirmed.

Gutierrez will remain at the team, which he made his F1 debut for this year, alongside new team mate Adrian Sutil.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the team had chosen to retain Gutierrez, who managed a single top ten finish in his first season, because “we believe he is is a talented young racing driver”.

“Last season he experienced first hand how hard it can be for a rookie to step into Formula One,” she explained. “Nevertheless, throughout the season he improved significantly in qualifying as well as in the races and finished the year as the best rookie in the drivers’ championship. Often the results didn’t fully reflect his performances.”

“I am confident Esteban will be able to use his experiences to gain results, and this will be helped by the fact he is very well acquainted with every member of the race team."

Gutierrez said: “It was a steep learning curve last season, but by working closely with the team I was able to improve continuously.” The 22-year-old added he expects the challenge from the new technical regulations next year to be “massive”.

Sauber also announced Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex, which has backed Gutierrez’s career, will remain a major sponsor of the team in 2014.

Sergey Sirotkin, the 18-year-old Russian who was in contention for a race seat, will serve as test driver next year.

“We have been working with Sergey since August, and he has been able to gain more and more insight into Formula One,” said Kaltenborn. “Now he is taking the next step towards the top level of motorsport in his new role as a test driver. Our experience of him is as a very focused, calm and talented driver.”

“Now we will continue to support him, including obtaining his super license. Our goal remains to prepare him for a debut in Formula One.”

Sirotkin said his main focus next year will be his second season in Formula Renault 3.5, but added: “It’s a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 Team.”

“Formula One is very complex, so it is important to get an opportunity like this.”

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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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79 comments on “Gutierrez to stay at Sauber as Sirotkin gets test drive”

  1. Meh.

    1. Uninspiring line-up … I’ll support FI next year :P

      1. Anyone else feel like weekends are not the same with no F1! I’m currently watching the F1 Season Review for 2007. Wow, Lewis was so baby faced back then :-)

        1. @full-throttle-f1 hehehe, it’s every year the same: f1archives, youtube, … I just watched some of the 1999 season :)

  2. Well money talks…
    Although VdG also has a big amount of money behind him, I think he definitely deserved the Sauber seat more than Guttierez does

    1. How exactly does van der Garde deserve the Sauber seat. 2 lucky qualifying sessions mean nothing when he was beaten by Charles Pic who many people don’t even rate. Not to mention van der Garde is 28 which means he has a lot less time to develop and impress compared to 22 year old Guiterrez. In my opinion Esteban was a know quantity for Sauber and a much safer bet.

      1. DaveF1 is the second time in the day I totally agree. VDG is overated. He caused several crashes. Yes he is better than PIC and CHI. But thats it.

  3. We will see … was Hulkenberg that good this year or was Gutierrez that bad? We’ll find out next year :P

    1. Yeah I’m pretty excited to see this as well.

  4. Congratulations dauber. You have the least inspiring, least exciting and the least popular driver lineup on the whole grid for 2014. The car should be a beast to at least try for some points with that car.

    1. Sauber*

      1. Was wondering how Dabur got into this :)

    2. Yep.

      Di Resta loses out and Hulkenberg gets stuck at a midfield team, we see Gutierrez and Sutil around, and Maldonado in a front-running car :(

      1. This. Though I doubt Lotus will be a top car next year, and Di Resta can still race and win in other categories, but he definitely deserved to be on the grid over Sutil.

      2. @strontium How do you know it’s a front-running car? I’ve yet to see any results from running of the 2014 cars yet.

  5. I can only imagine the desperation behind this descision, once a team known for it’s fine line ups and now reduced to a pay-to-drive team.

    1. I wholeheartedly disagree @force-maikel. Just think back at some of the great drives from Guttierez during his GP3 championship year, at the time it felt almost disappointing they signed Perez as race driver and him only as their reserve.

      More than anything, his and Bottas, and to an extent VdGardes, years showed just how tough it is to get a rookie into the sport and up to speed. Towards the last couple of races Guttierez was certainly getting closer to Hulkenberg in both qualifying and races, so I agree that its worth giving him a second year.
      As far as Sirotkin is concerned, well, its good that he will not be shorttracked into an F1 drive too soon but instead given a year to grow into it. Sutil – a safe pair of hands to bring in some points, yeah, not inspiring, but they could have done worse

      1. @bascb I agree. I was disappointed to see Sutil still around, disappointed to see Hulk lose out on a top drive, and most of all disappointed to see Ca$htor Maldonado get a seat at Lotus, but I’m actually quite glad to see Sauber retain Gutierrez. Too often these days F1 teams dump a driver after only one season. In a rookie year in particular that can be very unfair. Hülkenberg is the perfect example. Certainly the first half of the season Esteban looked to be a big mistake taken by Sauber, part of that was the car, part of it was his inexperience, and part of it was being up against arguably one of the very best drivers in the sport as his team mate. As the car improved, so did he, and he was able to get much closer to his team mate more consistently. And as you mention, we saw some truly brilliant drives from him in GP3, and if GP2 is any measure he took longer than others to get up to speed in the series, but once he did he was a true championship contender. If he’s able to replicate that form in F1 I expect his second season will be much better than his first.

      2. @bascb – Good points. My hope for the 2014 Sauber match up is to see Gutierrez continue his improvement and regularly beat Sutil. That would be a good measure for Gutierrez.

        1. exactly that

    2. @bascb I agree his way to F1 was promising but his debut season has been nothing but disappointing, he only managed to impress in one race, if he truly is the talent you claim he is then he should have been able to match Hulkenberg on occasions and that didn’t happen. If Sauber didn’t have the claimed financial issues they wouldn’t even have considered him for a second year, be assured of that.

      I hope he can show us that magic that he had in the lower series, I really do hope so for him but in reality Sauber has the most disappointing line up of them all (that is if caterham or Marussia don’t go with an even worst pairing)

      IMHO Guti just doesn’t have it, if he really needs that second season to launch him, then that’s excellent for him but I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

  6. It’s not exactly the most exciting driver line up on the grid for 2014. With Sutil and Gutierrez driving I can’t see Sauber seeing the full potential of their car being exploited, unlike last season where Hulkenberg demonstrated the absolute limit of the cars performance. Last season I was unimpressed by Gutierrez, but maybe it was too early for him to join F1, so in that sense it’s good he’s been given another season to show what he’s capable of and build upon last years experience, however if the results are still lackluster and doesn’t fare well comparably with Sutil his time will be up.

  7. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    21st December 2013, 9:43

    I think it’s time Peter show Kaltenborn the door.

    1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      21st December 2013, 9:45

      Yes, I do realize that Monisha owns a huge chunk of Sauber. But I still think she needs to be replaced as Team Principal.

      1. @braketurnaccelerate What did you want her to do? Sign Alonso and Hamilton, with the budget she has at hand?

    2. I think she had to go this ‘money’ route. She is keeping Sauber alive.
      If we don’t want the lesser talented money backed drivers, f1 does need a budget limit!
      So with a bit of luck in the next years we might see this happen and team such as sauber can go for better not (so) backed drivers like let’s say Vandoorne, Koboyashi,..

      1. BMW left Sauber for dead – they’re still suffering for it now. It’ll be years before the financial situation of F1 will calm down, so for now, I think Monisha is doing the right thing.

    3. The guy who signed an ageing Villeneuve, a nearly retiring Frentzen, and was involved with signing the ancient de la Rosa should totally sack her. She is the only person in Sauber with any say on the drivers. Totes.

  8. Joao Pitol (@)
    21st December 2013, 9:51

    Wise decision by the team..Sirotkin has merely done any testing in F1 and was not going to be ready.

    1. I wonder if he’ll get a shot at the Russian GP? Plenty of chances to go testing next year, and (with the final round a week after Sochi) the Renault 3.5 season will be nearly over. He ought to be in the title race for that, as 2013’s frontrunners aren’t competing – Magnussen and Felix da Costa; Vandoorne and Stevens may be off to GP2; don’t know about Nico Müller.

      1. @bullfrog
        I think he will have several Friday test drive opportunities…

      2. @bullfrog Mueller lacks the budget for GP2 or another season of WSR on his own, but he might scourge up something if he’s tagged alongwith Andre Negrao (said to be close to a GP2 seat, a good friend of Mueller, his teammate in the last two years, and a pay driver). Otherwise, he might end up with Audi in DTM, he tested for them in the off-season, and Audi were impressed.

    2. Its wise not to put sirotkin in the race seat but not wise enough to put 2 drivers who have not shown anything substantial to warrant their places on the grid. If not for the money they bring in, pairing a rookie with di Resta would have been a much better line up than this.

      1. Sutil is a fast driver, get over it.

  9. Wondering if Ferrari had a say in this and if they wanna see GUT for at least another season.

    1. Ferrari and Gutierrez? I definitely don’t think so.

      1. well the last 15 years drivers from Sauber (either test or regular) had some ties with Ferrari. Just seems a bit surprising that Marussia takes over this role so suddenly.

    2. @tmf42 – Great, humour, I love it. This site should have more jokes on it.

  10. I read somewhere that VDG brings a lot of money, above 10 million.
    With GUT brining in a similar amount (Perez gets 15m, more than Esteban) I suppose Sauber should have gone for Giedo. Or Kamui, with his 8-10m Dollars in Yens. I would love to see Kobayashi back, it could also help Sauber get honda later on and would get them more points and TV time with KK.
    Time for Sauber to take a few lessons from Force India. If SFI get a car close to their 2011/first half of 2013 cars, They would be in for some Giant killing performances. I find myself supporting them in the midfield and down.

  11. Probably the most inevitable development announced so far, because, quite frankly, unless they fancied running Van der Garde, Chilton or Nasr, there was no one else that had a budget. The 2013 driver market is actually getting quite amusing. Unlike the way the real talents used to get snapped up quickly in the past, the pay drivers are all getting seats, so much so that is becoming likely that we will run out of pay drivers!

    Gutierrez is by no means a disaster on wheels, and I’m sure he’ll do a solid…ish job next year, but after the year he had, I think it is only an illustration of the dire financial scenario that exists below the top teams that he is kept. Perhaps one of the most graphic illustrations of the “widening financial cracks in F1” that Ed Straw talked about in last week’s AUTOSPORT is the strikingly poor throttle control Gutierrez has. The keeping of a man that provokes Brundle to convey an audibly detectable wince every time the feed shows his onboard camera really does epitomize the 2013 driver market.

    1. Poor throttle control, massive torque and no simulators (at Sauber) sounds like a recipe for disaster… should be worth watching!

      Remember Massa in the Sauber? Martin Brundle was less than impressed with his driving, too, in the early days, and he improved. Stevie Gut’s only had one good result so far, but he’s better than jokers like Piquet and Nakajima who got a second year in F1.

      1. @bullfrog – I was actually thinking about all that torque when I was writing that, I can certainly foresee some spins! But saying that, Gutierrez was, at times quite quick in the wet, and that certainly doesn’t square with poor throttle control, and he was in GP2, which will pretty much be F1 next year. However, that said, Gutierrez was hardly any good at GP2 either, in that he found himself failing to win the championship in 2012 despite being up against one of the most uninspiring grids in GP2 history…

        I don’t see however how you can draw comparisons between Massa and Gutierrez, because although certainly Massa’s Sauber years were by no means vintage “young-gun” performances, his rich vane of pace was never in doubt, as proved with a fourth place in Canada, and definitely proved himself worthy of a Ferrari seat. A young Massa was more of a Grosjean than a Gutierrez. Gutierrez compares much better with a driver like Piquet Jr, who both performed well in the junior categories, with Gutierrez taking the GP3 title and Piquet keeping Hamilton honest in GP2, but failing to deliver anything like the pace and form they promised in F1. I’d even be cautious about comparing Gutierrez with Nakajima, because although Kazuki clearly forgot how to drive a racing car over the 2008/9 winter, he was quite fast in the first half of 2008, and Brundle spent literally ten minutes of ITV’s coverage of Canada 2008 singing his praise…before Kazuki hit the inside of the pitwall having run over his own front wing.

        1. @william-brierty You are right, I still remember the wet qualifying in Australia, unfortunately for him it started to dry up and this year there hasn’t been much rain anyway, next year’s cars will be so different to drive that I think we might see some drivers being much more competitive than they were before (and vice versa).

          1. @mantresx – Agreed. I can’t help but think that drivers that need to be “dialed in” to a new car in order to perform: Button, Rosberg, Massa, Raikkonen even Vettel, will fall prey, initially at least, to drivers with prodigious natural pace, so Hamilton, Alonso, Hulkenberg and maybe even Ricciardo. The running order, not just of the teams but of the drivers is set for an emphatic shake-up.

  12. This is a very sad day for me, folks. But I this is the point where I can no longer say that I am a real Sauber fan and actually mean it. It’s been a beautiful relationship, but now I feel it’s time for me to move on…

    (Come on Caterham, sign Kobayashi and instantly win my undying allegiance…)

    1. @magnificent-geoffrey I wonder if Kamui has the budget to rival a Dutchman, a Frenchman and a Swede.

    2. @magnificent-geoffrey You better repaint your fish, then!

    3. How awesome would it be to see Kobayashi in the lean, mean green machine?

    4. Shame on you. We dont need your traitor support.
      Go with FI. But remember…Dont you dare to come back

  13. I get it, Sauber need money. But it’s a shame they didn’t pick atleast 1 driver for their actuall skill. I for one would’ve liked to see Frijns getting a change in F1.

  14. A good piece of news. He may not have been great so far, but I’m confident in Gutierrez much more than I am in Sutil and Sirotkin.

    1. I think we just have to remember how good he was in GP3 and I do think he showed some signs of the speed and race skill being in there, but it took a lot to bring it into F1. So I hope Guttierez develops into the exiting F1 driver he showed promise of being able to become this year.

  15. So we have two German-Mexican line-ups. I wonder how much Slim is paying Sauber compared to Force India (€15m)…
    I suppose this is better than having Sirotkin as full-time driver. Gutierrez is fortunate he has backing because, although he improved (he was pretty awful to start off with mind), his season just wasn’t good enough. Sauber do look vulnerable to slipping down the table unless the car is a dream.

    1. @deej92 Battle of the Norteno bands for 6th in 2014?

  16. People complain the rookies don’t get enough testing and shouldn’t be judged after one season so Sauber give their rookie driver another season and people still complain…

    1. GUT impressed me with some of his GP2 performances. Yup, give the man a second chance; one season sometimes isn’t enough for a rookie to find their feet. Some highly rated drivers didn’t show promise until after a year or so, albeit some of them suffered a lot of DNFs – Mika Häkkinen, for example. Button only scored two points in his second year in F1, six points in 2007, and three points in 2008. Again, a lot of DNFs were part of the reason. The Brawn car was a major factor in Button’s 2009 championship but he still needed the skill to drive the car in the first place. So give GUT a chance – one year isn’t enough in some cases.

      I hope Chilton gets a second chance too. Having said that, I’ll probably be buried under a deluge of ‘Chilton is useless’ and similar comments. At least he didn’t lob the car into the barriers this year, which is more than some drivers were able to achieve.

  17. Excellent news. Gutierrez is a hugely talented driver who, by his own admission, was not ready to step into F1 in 2013. I’m so relieved that Sauber have given him another chance to fulfill his potential. I’m confident that 2014 will be the year that Esteban shows us just how brilliant he is.

  18. I guess the wikipedia entry that’s been wrong for the past 6 months should be updated them. ROFLAMO, etc.

  19. Everybody think they are more intelligent than Sauber.
    I doubt it. Sauber picked MSC, VET, RAI, MAS, FRE, KUB among others. Why dont wait for GUT?
    As a Sauber fan, I’m pretty happy with the pick. The 2013 Saubers first 9 races mean nothing.
    Esteban has been working with Sauber for 4 years now. They know Esteban. And I think its a better pick that Sirotkin.

    1. Yes, But using short term memory gives us the chance to lash out at a team that has endured in very prickly terrain, Letting Sirotkin marinate for another season was the best decision, rather than to throwing him in to the fire before his time, Sauber has no simulator to measure a future star. But You do make a good point, these guys have had their hand in the development of many great drivers, and Monisha has 2012, a great year for sauber and she was greatly responsible for that (if not all of it). All they need is that cap in the budget for every team, then we will see who is who.

  20. Peter Sauber made a lot of sacrifices to make sure his team stayed afloat when BMW left the sport. If this, rather uninspiring, driver lineup means the team can survive financially, then I wish them all the best. I just hope that they come up with a better paint job than this year

  21. Does it mean Telmex will have presence on two cars? Or Perez is without Telmex sponsorship?

  22. A couple of years ago Sauber had the most exciting line up with Kobayashi and Perez, now they arguably have the least exciting line up with Sutil and Gutierrez.

    Sutil I expect will do okay, but he is very inconsistent, one his day he’s really good but in other races he looks below average. Gutierrez was really poor this year, yes he improved towards the end of the year but he still has a long way to go if he is to have a long term future in this sport, and I’m not convinced he can improve enough.

  23. um whats happening to VDG and Pic?

    1. van der garde is likely to stay at caterham, pic is pretty much out of f1 at this point

  24. I have to say I am pleased with the comments here, as Twitter and other F1 sites put a magnifying glass on the signing of Sirotkin as 3rd driver. ‘Youngster’, ‘crash kid’ and what have you.

    Honestly, Sutil and Gutierrez might be the least promising line-up so far, but it’s still miles beyond de la Rosa/Karthikeyan or Sauber folding.

  25. I’m still a bit undecided about Gutierrez. Purely from a driving point of view: I was watching him at turns 10-11 of the Hungaroring in GP3 2012, and I noticed he was the only driver that could really nail those turns. But if you look at onboards from 2013, he just looks very nervous. So perhaps the car just didn’t suit him in 2013.

    I think he deserves a second chance in 2014, hopefully to redeem himself.

    1. @andae23, perhaps that’s it, that the car didn’t suit him, because it looked from the junior categories that he should have some speed. The problem with Gutierrez’ 2013 season is, in my opinion, that he only scored points once when the car was good, and by which time he had more than half a season of experience under his belt.

      He was obviously adapting to F1 in his first couple of races, but how much leeway should he be allowed for not delivering in the second part of the season? Hulkenberg was putting the car well into Q3 almost every race and scoring good points, whereas Gutierrez only occasionally did Ok. I just fear that next season Sauber will be struggling to score points with its current driver line-up.

  26. i’m okay with gutierrez, it’s just sutil i have a problem with.
    gutierrez is only in his second season, he can (and will) still improve, while sutil can not improve from being mediocre anymore. he’s had enough chances.
    i’d have picked van der garde over sutil, they bring in about the same amount of sponsorship money and van der garde seems like a talented chap, while sutil… won’t bring the team any further up the grid.

    1. Please. Sutil is very capable of getting some decent results. Look at his pass on Alonso at Monaco, remember Monaco 2008…

      Everyone rates Paul di Resta so highly, he didn’t blow Sutil away, eventhough he was away for a whole year…

      Van der Garde hasn’t impressed at all, he was (barely) better than Pic and that’s it!

  27. Least. Inspiring. Driver. Line up. Ever.

  28. Sooooo… What happens if Guti -or any other newcomerish driver, but hopefully Guti- really nails down the style needed for the 1.6T/Kinergetic era (four, five years?), will they get snapped up pronto by the top 4? I can’t see RAI, ALO and BUT driving past 2016, that’s 37% of seats opening up in the next few years.

  29. I think this is a good move & expect Esteban to do significantly better in 2014 given 1 years experience.

    Lets not forget that Guttierez won the GP3 championship in 2010 & won races in GP2 in 2011/2012 on his way to 3rd in the GP2 championship in 2012 so he’s not as useless as a lot here seem to believe.

    He outpaced Hulkenberg a few times in 2013 including at Spa which is a real drivers circuit.

    He improved his pace over the 2nd half of the year but lost some results due to bad luck (The ridiculous penalty for been forced off track at spa for instance).
    With this year in the bag he will do well in 2014 & silence all the haters who were complaining about him before he’d even sat in the car pre-season.

  30. Good move from Sauber. Gutierrez have showed he has the guts to race an F1. After he being the best rookie of last season and having set the fastest lap just in his 5th F1 race as in Spain when his car had not been improved as it was in the 2nd half of the season, beating superior cars and the best drivers. I think he’s got great potential for F1.

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