Gutierrez retained as Sauber waits for Russian deal

© F1 Pulse, 21 December 2013
© AP Photo/Mark Baker

Sauber retained Esteban Gutierrez for his second season in Formula One with the Mexican joining Adrian Sutil to complete the Swiss team’s line-up for 2014.

The 22-year-old finished 16th in his rookie season this year, cementing his place as the best newcomer.

"It was a steep learning curve last season, but by working closely with the team I was able to improve continuously," said Gutierrez, who has been affiliated with the team since 2010 in various roles.

His best result came at the Japanese Grand Prix, where he crossed the line in seventh place; his only points-scoring finish of the season. He started in the top ten twice with his best qualifying performance placing him in P8 in Korea.

“Often the results didn’t fully reflect his performances,” said team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

Handed an ill-handling car for most of the season, Gutierrez’s performance improved only when the Sauber did in the latter half of the campaign.

The team also announced that it will continue its partnership with telecommunications company Telmex, whose logo will continue to have a significant presence on the cars.

WHERE ARE THE RUSSIANS?

The decision indicates that its earlier deal which would have roped in funding from Russia did not materialise.

In July, Sauber had struck a partnership with two investment funds - connected to state and regional public money - and Russia's National Institute of Aviation Technologies, which the team said gave it a “solid foundation to increase its competitiveness on a long-term basis.”

The partnership included developing driver Sergey Sirotkin "to prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014. The 18-year-old, though, has been named as a test driver although the team said in a statement that its “goal remains to prepare him for a debut in Formula One.”

"My main focus next year, however, will be the World Series by Renault, which is very competitive,” Sirotkin said. “This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step.”

SEATS REMAINING

Only Marussia is left to announce its second driver to partner Jules Bianchi while Caterham is to name its full line up for the 2014 season.

While Max Chilton is the leading candidate at Marussia, which would mean that the line-up would remain unchanged, Caterham, in contrast, may field two new drivers.

Swede Marcus Ericsson has been touted to make his F1 debut next year while the second seat could be snapped up by Kamui Kobayashi, who last drove for Sauber in 2012. The Japanese driver, who reportedly has a budget of €6 million, sweeps aside Heikki Kovalainen as the prime contender.

 

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