Robin Frijns in 2013: GP2 or just F1 ’testing’?

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    Robin Frijns will be Sauber’s test driver this year. But will he actually end up doing much running during the season?

    Williams and Force India have often used race practice sessions to give time to junior drivers but Sauber have preferred not to. Frijns role as a ‘test driver’ might therefore be limited to the Young Drivers’ Test and a few straight-line aerodynamic runs.

    Could he dovetail his test duties with a season in a junior category?

    Frijns won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship last year. Unlike in GP2, that does not preclude him from continuing to race in the category, but as he’s already champion he surely wouldn’t want to as anything less than a dominant title victory would look bad.

    That leaves him looking at GP2, where he would at least be on hand to stand in for either of Sauber’s drivers should he need to. But it’s not a great step up from FR3.5 and it seems he doesn’t have much of a budget so it might not even be an option.

    Other categories like Auto GP are surely too much of a step down. What do you think he’ll end up doing? Will Sauber give him a bit of race weekend practice?


    No supposing Sauber would pay for him to drive in GP2? Not that I think they could afford it.

    Joel Holland

    He’s been liked with DTM, tested a DTM and said he’d like to do DTM, so I’m feeling that DTM may be his only option.

    Craig Woollard

    It would make sense for him to go into another series for now, DTM seems like a good option, as the above comment says.


    I’d like to see him join GP2 if it were possible for him to do so. He already has a very impressive CV so far, and if he were able to compete in GP2 the same way as he has done in WSR 3.5 this year, adding to that the odd practice session in F1, then any midfield team would be foolish not to take him next season.

    Ryan Williams

    The only issue with Frijns competing in GP2 would be that Sauber then couldn’t run him in Friday practice for 11 of the 20 rounds, as per the GP2 rules. DTM could be a viable option, possibly with Mercedes who have only announced 3 of their 8 drivers. Audi are also yet to announce their 8th & final driver for 2013


    I think it would be a shame to see him on the sidelines for a year, unable to prove himself to anybody but Sauber, and even then more in the sense of working with the team than driving racing cars fast. Do Sauber even have a simulator?

    I would like to see him in GP2 next year. There are plenty of seats still available next year (according to this thread: https://www.racefans.net/groups/gp2/forum/topic/2013-gp2-teams-and-drivers/?topic_page=6&num=15), and he would have a chance to prove himself to the F1 paddock. It’s a real shame no Dutch companies (of which there are plenty) appear unwilling to get behind the country’s most promising talent since, well, ever. I don’t think he would have to win the title to qualify for an F1 drive. If he shows promise regularly, and gets a handle on the Pirelli tyres, he will be a good candidate for any midfield team with a vacancy.

    I don’t like the idea of a season in DTM; it’s a completely different racing category, and not one that single-seater racers have successfully used to get into F1. Just look at what Robert Wickens and Roberto Mehri have achieved in DTM last year: nothing. Both were very promising (also underfunded) drivers, and now it looks very unlikely they will ever make it into F1.


    Frijns’ biggest problem is money. He has said several times that the €500.000 he won from winning the FR2.0 in 2011 was the main reason he could enter FR3.5 in 2012. He has no money for another season in FR3.5, so I think it’s very unlikely he will be in GP2 next year. There aren’t many Dutch companies interested in sponsoring F1 (the Crisis and RenaultF1 ruined ING’s involvement, of which they were pretty proud) and the ones who are (Shell, Philips, Randstad, Unilever) have stated they’d rather focus on teams instead of drivers. McGregor is also closely affiliated with Giedo van der Garde, but unlikely to share sponsorship between Williams and Caterham in F1. Trust, a former Verstappen and Minardi sponsor have been a minor Red Bull sponsor before, but seem to have been dialing back their sponsorship deals. There are some industrials who have a large presence worldwide, but not a lot of companies operate under the same name or product names internationally as in the Netherlands. The breweries are also unlikely to sponsor, since more and more races are ran in Islamic countries, which seems to be the reason a brewery sponsoring Force India ran a different name in some races in 2012.

    I think Frijns doesn’t have a lot of options. Sauber was very positive about him after the Young Drivers Test; he needs to spend a lot of time at Sauber and stay fit in case Gutiérrez proves that his idea of not being ready for F1 is more than just a hunch. (Not saying I want that to happen or find it likely, btw.)

    DTM might be all he can do in 2013, but I’m doubtful if it’s going to help his career a lot. Spare a few names, future F1 drivers have not always done well in DTM, nor have old F1 drivers. I think he needs to either rob a bank and do GP2 with a front running team, or spend every waking hour in whatever simulator Sauber is using; or have them rent Toyota’s one for him.


    As an aside, I don’t recall Fernando Alonso doing any racing in 2002 when he was 3rd driver at Renault. He probably did a lot of testing (and even then, I don’t think he did THAT much testing), but he certainly wasn’t race-rusty in 2003.

    Joel Holland

    I can’t see much point in him doing GP2. You don’t need to prove yourself there if you’ve just won 3.5 as a rookie against the best junior field in decades. Or is this a case of ‘he can’t be considered truly great until he’s proved himself against Ricardo Texeira, Daniel de Jong and Rodolfo Gonzalez :p


    It’s all the car :lol:

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