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Sauber confirm driver line-up

Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix Sauber decided to confirm their driver line-up for the 2013 Formula One World Championship.

Mexican reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez would make the step up next season and join incoming Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg next season.

It isn't clear if the news was deliberately leaked because they thought that timing it ahead of the final race of the 2012 Formula One World Championship would maximise interest, or whether or not the news was accidentally leaked at the wrong time.

Either way it didn't really grab many headlines following the announcement.

Perhaps it was because the news had been highly expected?

Sauber's test driver had been linked with the seat for quite a few months while Kamui Kobayashi was flying all over the world in a bid to raise the sponsorship required to give him a chance of sticking with the team.

With Sergio Perez leaving the team for McLaren and German Nico Hulkenberg jumping from Force India to Sauber, it means that the team will have a brand new line-up for 2013.

Dutchman Robin Frijns who won the Renault 3.5 feeder series this year has also been signed up by Sauber.

Of course it's disappointing news for Kobayashi who has shown such promise since making his debut in Formula One in 2009 with Toyota. But in F1 money talks and the team's Mexican sponsor Telmex may well have had an influence on the team replacing one Mexican driver with another.

But despite Gutierrez looking like a pay-driver, he also holds a lot of potential and looks set to follow in the steps of Sergio Perez, who has been tipped as a future race winner and world champion following his move to McLaren.

Speaking about the young 21-year-old, Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn told Autosport Magazine: '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 1 step by step.

She continued: '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.'

A comparison to Perez is easy when looking at Gutierrez, two young Mexican drivers with big financial backing from sponsors and both came through the Escuderia Telmex scheme.

Both took the Formula BMW ADAC, British Formula Three, GP2 Series route before making the step up to Formula One.

Both winning races at each level, Perez taking the British Formula Three National Class championship in 2007, Gutierrez taking the 2010 GP3 Series title.

Now it's up to Gutierrez to hit the ground running like Perez did when he was given a chance with Sauber.

If not then Robin Frijns, the 2010 Formula BMW Europe title holder, 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 winner and the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champ will be waiting in the wings.

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday December 4 2012

Time: 11:00AM


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