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Mexican money trumps Russian as Esteban Guterriez gets the nod at Sauber
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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Dec 2013   |  2:57 pm GMT  |  112 comments

Esteban Gutierrez will get a second season as a race driver for the Sauber F1 Team after Carlos Slim’s Telmex company committed to invest in the team once again. Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin will have to settle for the Reserve Driver role, in which he was confirmed today.

Slim has been part of the Sauber set up for three seasons now, funding first Sergio Perez’ drive there and more recently Gutierrez. But there is a sense that the Mexican billionaire hasn’t committed the kind of funding he’s capable of to the sport, despite everyone looking to him to do so. A revival of the Mexican Grand Prix was given a provisional date on the 2014 calendar but didn’t make it onto the final version. Slim has been reluctant to fund that, preferring to encourage other Mexican businesses and promoters to take some of the strain.

Although Slim is passionate about the sport, has an “establishment” role on the FIA Senate and has done a lot for Mexican drivers, there is a sense that the budget he’s allowed to work with by the parent company is limited so he’s working more on the fringes.

“We at Telmex and Telcel are very proud to continue being part of the Sauber F1 Team to keep consolidating our succesful history in motorsport, particularly in Formula One and our driver development programme for Mexican and Latin drivers such as Esteban Gutiérrez, a great young talent, friend and human being, ” said Slim.

There was a small sponsorship from his Claro company on the McLaren this year, but expert insiders say that was worth only around €4-5 million.


Sirotkin is very young and has so far struggled to persuade the powers that be that he is worthy of an FIA superlicence, but he will keep plugging away. The reserve driver role should get him some outings in the four two day tests scheduled for 2014 and maybe some Friday practice runs too.

The Russian funding announced by Sauber mid way through last season, which was supposed to get Sirotkin a race seat has not flowed as expected and it will be interesting to see how the Mexican and Russian funding models play out at Sauber over the next season or two.

For the Swiss team, still reeling from the withdrawal of BMW at the end of 2009, a high value shareholder is still a first order priority and the budget cap, announced by the FIA this month, but yet to be clarified, cannot come soon enough for them.

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112 Comments
  1. Alexander Supertramp says:

    Very very mediocre pairing..

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Slim invests in the sport for a future Mexican champion, many will watch the races because PEREZ and GUTIERREZ are in the grid, and GUTIERREZ will be good this year, it’s just end of the road for SUTIL at the end 2014 (but you never know).

    2. Maserati123 says:

      Thanks Slims for supporting Sauber and F1 in general,only rich folk can do this and we the fans greatly appreciate your efforts.

  2. Simmo says:

    So while di Resta loses out and Hulkenberg gets stuck at a midfield team, we still have Gutierrez and Sutil around, and Maldonado in a front-running machine…

    1. Random 79 says:

      Welcome to the asylum Simmo – We have cake :)

      1. Julian F says:

        LOL @Random 79!
        One of the best comments I’ve read all year!

        Julian F

    2. The E22 a front-running machine? Let us see if it races at all. So far they are far behind schedule, and short of cash for a change… Not even a test in simulator. Very distressing.

      1. Wade Parmino says:

        Apparently not even a confirmed engine supplier in place as well.

      2. pepe-le-pew says:

        Me thinx Lotus will not be as good next season, Force India might be ahead, if that be the case, how long until Maldonado mentions sabotage…

      3. TimW says:

        No doubt he will, your right about Force India as well. They have that Mercedes engine, I’m definitely looking forward to Hulkenberg blowing by Maldonado!

    3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      All those hundreds of millions that CVC and Bernie rip out of the sport, you’d think there’s enough cash for them to fairly distribute so the teams outside the big four can survive, plus so the best drivers are showcasing their sport.

      Priorities all in the wrong direction still despite all the warning signs.

      Another wrong direction is the fact that now less than half of the races are shown on BBC terrestrial TV to the masses in the UK, the majority of live races are subscription.

      How can Lotus, say improve financially enough to hire the better driver, such as Hulk? Just now every sponsor knows they’re in trouble, knows they can’t pay out to Kimi, knows UK audiences are way smaller than when the championship was on terrestrial TV, and, incredibly, knows even if Lotus won the constructors title and McLaren came 6th then Lotus gets less cash back from F1 for developing into the future!

      Sweepstake, but the odds are poor: Which team will go bust first and what seem the likeliest top three to go bust?

      1. Random 79 says:

        “Which team will go bust first”

        From what Sami says above and James says below it looks like it’s going to be Lotus.

        How the hell did they go from being the team with (arguably) the most potential to step up to being the team that is struggling more than Marussia?

        It’s a clear warning sign for the sport sorry business. I’d do some shouting at the FIA again, but apparently they’re stone deaf.

      2. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        So, hypothetically then, if Lotus do go bust with Sauber, Marussia and Force India all pay driver happy, Maldonado (and his biggest pot of all) becomes a free agent.

        Question then is, who would Maldonado kick out of F1 next. Contracts are never that watertight when big money is involved. di Resta has gone so could Maldo take out Sutil, or Hulkenberg or Bianchi or Guittierez next?

        What would Grosjean do, drive elsewhere or perhaps setup a driver psychology business to teach all the poor but loaded pay drivers how to improve. ;)

      3. Random 79 says:

        If Lotus do go bust and I were Sutil then yeah, I’d be looking over my shoulder ;)

        Bianchi should be safe with his Ferrari ties and Gutierrez has backing of his own.

        As for Grosjean he’s definitely had his problems, but personally speaking he is a driver I rate highly and I think it would be a real shame and a real loss for the sport if he was unable to find a seat.

    4. Spinodontosaurus says:

      What’s with the hate for Sutil? He’s proven himself to be a pretty decent driver, not a top line driver, but one capable of scoring steady and strong finishes in mid-field teams. Hardly fair to lump him in with Maldonado, Gutierrez or Chilton.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Some feel he shouldn’t be in the sport do to the incident with Lutz, while others feel he’s had his chance and should be replaced by a driver with more potential.

        Personally I agree that he’s a solid midfield driver, but that’s the most exciting thing I can think of to say about him.

        p.s. There are also a few ‘fans’ who would like to see him keep a seat in F1 because of his girlfiend. Priorities ;)

      2. Tim says:

        Personally I agree that he’s a solid midfield driver, but that’s the most exciting thing I can think of to say about him…

        Apparently, he is a very good piano player – not sure if that’s a more exciting thing to say about him. Probably not!

      3. Random 79 says:

        That’s supposed to be “due to”. Crikey.

      4. Random 79 says:

        …and that should have been Lux, not Lutz (Sorry Eric)

      5. Elie says:

        Yes I think the tv flicks to his gf smiling face make the Pirellis go pop.

      6. andrew says:

        So now you’re comparing Maldonado to Chilton.
        Unbelievable!

        Sutil has had his chances. There were times when Force India was very good (see Fisi at Spa) and he didn’t take advantage. He’s decent but still gets into more accidents than he should.

        Would rather see Kobayashi than him. Also I think Di Resta has shown himself to be more solid and consistent.

    5. Elie says:

      Lotus may not be round for very long and they’ve lost many good people. Wonder how competitive they will be if at all

  3. Ed says:

    James, What ever happened to the funding for Lotus that was due a few weeks back?

    Have a great christmas and thanks for all of your insight over the past year

    1. James Allen says:

      It didn’t come through. I think they are in some trouble.

      1. JEZ Playense says:

        It would be ironic if Kimi ends up owning the team due to their debts to him! Any word on whether he has been paid?

      2. Random 79 says:

        Kimi’s Ice Cream F1 Team?

      3. sunbeam says:

        James, When do teams get the FOM money?

      4. JoeP says:

        Unfortunately, they are definitely in trouble, James, as “official” Twitter feeds have become the new mine-shaft canaries and the fact that Lotus’s went totally dark for an extended period (as the scam-Quantum deal (that never was) died a sad & pathetic death, humiliating Eric B whilst Lux and Lopez hid out) will be retrospectively identified as an important warning sign of the unsustainability of F1′s business model.

      5. Nico says:

        OMG THEY DIDN’T SEND ENOUGH REGULAR TWEETS, THEY MUST BE DOOMED.

      6. Random 79 says:

        You know, if Lotus had hired Hamilton no one would have suspected a thing.

      7. J.Danek says:

        Nico Reply: | “OMG THEY DIDN’T SEND ENOUGH REGULAR TWEETS, THEY MUST BE DOOMED.” | December 23rd, 2013 at 12:43 am |

        I fail to see what you think is so funny or why you think you’re so funny, b/c JoeP has a point that bears considering seriously.

        Lotus F1 as a team developed one of the most consistent, regular, recognizable and engaging Twitter feeds, and, using representative heuristics to make judgments about the probability of the existence of serious financial trouble at Enstone under conditions of uncertainty in their previously-mentioned Twitter feed is a simple but brilliant new approach!

        Furthermore, least you make the suggestion, I do not believe this is exemplary of the Conjunction Fallacy but actually represents a viable analytic method – especially given the already-reported financial difficulties experienced by the team that have evolved far beyond simply missing one or two salary installments to a single driver to encompass total failure to meet the company’s payroll.

        I am profoundly concerned for the viability of the team’s current ownership structure and suspect they may not even make the grid with these principals. That their Twitter feed went silent for a (relatively) extended period is an ominous sign.

      8. Stephen Taylor says:

        How big are their money troubles now? Will they see out the entire 2014 season?

      9. James Clayton says:

        I think the question is more like will they see the start of the 2014 season?

        I guess the first test will be an indicator of exactly how deep the troubles are…

      10. Elie says:

        There was talk of €200m . So when people got about Pastor Maldonado and his € 35m PDVSA it really means very little.

      11. luqa says:

        Given the reputation of the person behind Qantum, it was no real surprise the deal failed to close for Lotus
        A lot of hot exhaust gases without a suitable diffusor to make use of them..

      12. Elie says:

        The old saying “money talks and BS walks” !

      13. ManOnWheels says:

        I haven’t found a better way to insult his ignorance than to cite him personally, so here we go:

        “Fortunately we don’t have to base our judgement only on Google” [Eric Boullier]

      14. Random 79 says:

        “Fortunately we don’t have to base our judgement only on Google”

        But in hindsight he would have been better off doing that.

      15. darthpatate says:

        This almost sounds like an eulogy.

        Very sad for the people working at Enstone. They did an awesome job in 2005-2006. I belive the slump in 2007 was due to lack of commitment from Renault (maybe I missed some story…anyone knows what happened?) and they gradually bounced back to a winning car.

        In hindsight, maybe we can understand the “rabit tweet” as an epiphany : without Raikonnen and his attractivity, the team was headed for very bad waters…(and Lopez always was more IMHO jack sparrow than christopher columbus)

      16. Martin says:

        A large part of 2007 was the change from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres. Pat Symonds explain to Autocourse that the team’s wind tunnel tyre models were wrong in that as the tyres deflected under load during braking and cornering the tyres in the model were a different shape to what the real tyres were doing. Hence the front wing didn’t work too well and the car had inconsistent behaviour. Fisichella was solid, but clearly not at Alonso’s level and Kovalainen while also having a lot of testing experience, is not at Hamilton’s level and had a much trickier car to get to grips with.

        The engine freeze was also an issue around this time, but I’m not sure at what point the performance gains via reliability modifications by Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari really kicked in.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      17. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Another notch on Ijaz’s belt. Boy does that guy have a way about him. One almost has to admire his capacity to keep spinning a story… Ultimately, if Lotus were smart enough, Ijaz would have left a reasonable door open for litigation. His representations are clear and public enough… And his reputation speaks of a consistent and almost pathological urge to conduct himself fraudulently for short term gains.

        International transactory issue my arse.

    2. verstappen says:

      It quantum-leaped to infinity…

      1. Random 79 says:

        …but failed to make it to beyond :(

  4. ferggsa says:

    Slim has done a remarkable job fostering motor sports and drivers in Mexico
    Telmex racing sponsores many different classes in Mexico and the US

    Of course having 2 drivers reach F1 is great, but I would guess the target is getting them there, not paying for their stay
    Slim is wealthy because he spends his money wisely, if he can get Checo a seat for 10m he will not pay more, and if he has to spend 30m he might instead use it for 5 lower class seats with young kids, similar to what RedBull does

    I assume he is still helping Checo out because he perceived the Mc treatment was a bit unfair, and as Vijay says there might be more business chances with FI. But by year’s end Checo should be a driver with Mexican sponsors, rather than a Telmex pay driver, and probably same will apply to Esteban at Sauber

    Regarding him, I think he is a late bloomer more than a wonder kid and hope he has the time to improve and show it, although present F1 conditions do not help
    He is a smart and dedicated driver but needs time to adapt and learn, more of a Prost than a Senna type, so he is in for a tough year with the new cars

  5. Steve says:

    so thats it for the quantum deal? Its amazing a team like lotus is in such trouble…I hope things improve for them…

    1. Elie says:

      The problem with Lotus is that they invested heavily over the last few years to get this competitive. Tunnel upgrades , personnel on the expectation of big sponsor signings. Whilst they picked up a few good ones like Burn and Microsoft they were only minor sponsors. Lotus aren’t a small team they have over 400 people compared to Marussia with just over 200.
      The biggest problem with any business that grows is that it’s needs to decide whether to rationalise and maintain a certain size or take a risk- get funding to compete against the big boys and Lotus were just about there but they did not get those signings to get them to that next level and blind Freddy could see this joker Ijaz for what he is.Hopefully we can hear some positive news over the holiday break for the sake if dedicated people at Enstone but it’s more likely to be a grim 2014.

  6. JoeP says:

    w/r/t Sirotkin, if he’s really as talented as whoever’s backing/pushing_for him seems to think, then that talents is not going to dissipate during the one season in which he’s not actively being out-classed or overwhelmed in Formula 1.

    If, on the other hand, he was never talented enough to compete effectively on the F1 grid, then yes, not getting the full race drive at Sauber could mean he never gets another shot. But this seems highly unlikely, or else why would anyone be backing him in the first place?
    Kid’s simply too young to be full-time in F1 in 2014, it sounds. Idk him though so i’m just parroting what the other pundits claim (ppl who prolly don’t know him either). But listen, cream always rises to the top in sports like pro cycling and F1, when extreme natural ability can given the athlete a clear, discernible advantage. If Sirotkin is truly that talented, his ascendency will continue…

  7. Goggomobil. says:

    Mr Carlos Slim is not the richest person in
    the world by accident, his respect for $ 1.00
    being the same as would be for 1 mil tells
    the strength of a man. However his help was good enogh for Guterriez to keep his seat
    with Sauber, he deserve it, some of his
    drives in 2013 were eyes opening particularly
    in qualifying. Sauber is sitting pretty, the
    truth of the pudding will be known in 2015
    when both countries Russia and Mexico stage
    an F1 Carnival,Will it Russian funding secure
    young Sirotkin F1 seat with Sauber or Slim
    dig deeper and keep Guterriez F1 seat, a
    fascinating times ahead for Sauber.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      ..or in 2015 will the Russians or Mexicans be able to pick the team itself up for a single dollar?

  8. Chris R says:

    “and it will be interesting to see how the 2 funding models will play out at Sauber.”

    Ok I think i’ve had enough of pay driver discussion forever. It’s a big fat turn off.

    1. Random 79 says:

      You’re right – we should talk about tyres :)

  9. Chapor says:

    I am pretty happy about that. I reckon Gutierrez has some potential still. I am also glad that Sergey Sirotkin isn’t dumped into the deep end to soon.

    James, any truth to the Kobayashi to Caterham rumours?

    1. James Allen says:

      Hope so!

      Very exciting driver and good at reaching out to fans

      He and van der Garde would do well together

      1. yassin says:

        MEXICAN MONEY HAD MORE MIGHT, SIROTKIN HAD A ‘SLIM’ CHANCE ON GETTING THE SEAT……I HOPE YOU GOT THE JOKE

      2. Chapor says:

        That would be a nice Christmas Gift for us fans.

        So here is hoping.

        Merry Christmas James. Thank you for an awesome blog, looking forward to next year.

        Martin.

      3. Tyler says:

        I agree, love to see Kobayashi back…F1 needs drivers like him. His absence is another fine example (though not the only one) that something is wrong with F1.

  10. Goggomobil. says:

    Mr Allen.
    May I wish you and your staff a great X/mas
    and a very prosperous 2014.
    Cheers Sir.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thank you and same to you

  11. JB says:

    It is kind of depressing that many teams have to resort of paid driver to fund their campaign.

    I am sure none of the teams would want to do this if they have a choice. However, I speculate there are too many unbalanced politics happening which lead to this.

    Realistically, I see many more teams will disappear before an overhaul will come in place.

  12. Chris Jones says:

    Money talks! Will be interesting to see if he fairs a little better in year two, not that he embarrassed himself this year.
    Will be interesting to see if he gets the shove at any point this season.

  13. Aleksandar says:

    Wow, so we are getting into a new era, where 90% of the drivers will be a monetary transaction.

    Not only will they need to finance themselves through youth but also be of a favourable stock of investors.

    It used to be decided on testing performance, now you are ordered to supply the check.

    I know that the F1 was always going to be somewhat an expensive sport but now its becoming a sport that only favours the sponsors!

  14. Carlos Palomo says:

    Great news. I think that because of his age and his little experience in F-1, Esteban Gutierrez is no mediocre, as someone suggests.
    Just give him a good car and he will show what he can do….

    1. James Clayton says:

      He had a good car in the second half of 2013

  15. Rich B says:

    glad sergey didn’t get the seat, he’s nowhere near ready.

  16. Tom in adelaide says:

    It’s a shame, they were such an exciting team only a few years back….

  17. nhial says:

    I have a question: is the issue of pay drivers being blown up because of the influx of international drivers from places we normally do not expect F1 drivers come from? All drivers in F1 are funded very much by their native countries. Without that backing they would not make it far. I think Esteban has a good CV and did well as a rookie. Already scored F1 points. Next year will be even better for him. Maldo is another good driver who gets beat up all the time but the guy has talent. And if I was paying the bills to drive, I’d speak my mind and take my money where I can get the best seat possible.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      It’s being blown up because because it is a serious issue for the sport to lose the better drivers and to risk teams going bust. Not because of nationality of say Guit, Maldo, Sutil, Perez, Chilt…

      More than ever the pay drivers are kicking out far better drivers. Kicking them out of the better teams and kicking them out of the sport.

      1. nhial says:

        Can you tell me who has lost a drive b/c of a pay driver? Teams will always and have always gotten the beet they can afford. Only teams that have the luxury of always hiring the cream of the crop are McLaren, Ferrari, and whoever the 3rd best team is at that particular moment. Racing drivers have always come with private sector sponsors. Only difference now is we have drivers being funded by governments or single billionaire. Reason for that is these drivers are coming from places where big time motorsports is still in its infancy so private sector support isn’t there yet. Where as in the motorsports meccas of the Europe, sponsorship and scholarship like channels are well established for decades.

  18. nhial says:

    I understand the economy isn’t great but that all explains part of it imo.

  19. Chris says:

    Force India are looking very strong driver wise in the midfield. Is Mclaren in the midfield?, because they look stronger than them to!

    1. Scott77 says:

      They were definitely a midfield team this year. Look for big improvement this year.

      1. Scott77 says:

        next year

      2. Random 79 says:

        Maybe the year after.

      3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        @random – yes, the year after – but that’ll be the extra half second Alonso brings ;)

  20. Elie says:

    Pretty much expecting this. I didn’t think Esteban did enough to earn the seat but really Sauber had very little choice- funding is such a critical thing! Paul Di Resta would be good but without backing it was never on the cards.
    I think Sauber are the dark horse in F1 and with the change of regulations they could really impress. The way the C31 improved after summer break was just incredible. The way they battled with Ferrari was really good to see.They seem to have very innovative people and even 2012 seemed to show how good they can be.
    James many thanks for delivering your insightful posts as usual in 2013. Merry Christmas to you and your family and look forward to more over the holidays and 2014. Cheers

  21. AndyRat says:

    I’m glad Carlos has cleared up any doubt and formally confirmed that Guterriez is, in fact, a human being. We’ll know it’s finally time to turn off when antelopes and hippos start getting bought drives.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Don’t be silly – if the Hulk struggles to make the weight limit then you can be sure that a hippo will never get a drive no matter how talented he is or how much sponsorship he brings.

  22. Mark V says:

    Forget DRS, KERS, no refuelling, tires designed to rapidly degrade, shrinking engine size, Tilke tracks, or whatever other gripes many fans including me have had in recent years. If I had to pick just one thing about F1 that seems to really be holding it back from showing its true potential, it is that the quality of the field is vastly watered down because many teams are obliged to hire drivers based on how much money they bring with them.

    F1 should not deserve call itself the pinnacle of motorsport if it cannot or will not make a priority of putting the best drivers in the world on the grid.

    To make a comparison to another sport: just imagine watching Usain Bolt competing in an Olympic final against a field consisting of runners that bought their way to the final, but finish not tenths but SECONDS behind him. This is the kind of bush league scenario that F1 is foisting on the fans.

    1. Bryce says:

      I say forget all the things in your first sentence, money is the problem, and they are just symptoms of that.

      Greed is the root of all problems, and it is sucking the life out of this sport, as it does in all other areas.

      1. Mark V says:

        Yes in a roundabout way money is what I was talking about. Like most F1 fans I like the fact that each team has to design and build a new car every season, and that takes a lot of money. Which makes for very cool, very fast cars…at least for the teams that can spend vast amounts of money to design and build them, and still have lots left over to pay drivers good enough to make a difference. But the others may be left scrambling for funds in order to compete and that is partly why the pay drivers come in. The cars simply make a bigger difference than the drivers, at least in the midfield so that is where they focus their efforts. That F1 still cannot find a way to keep the costs down while maintaining a high standard across the grid is why I believe the whole product is suffering.

    2. Alexis says:

      I disagree. Look at the early to mid nineties. You’d have teams bringing new drivers to each event – the bloke that gave them the biggest cheque on the Wednesday got to drive on Friday. No way are we anything like the era of shoestring teams like Pacific, Forti and Simtek. That’s not to say things aren’t great at the moment, but it’s been worse.

      1. Mark V says:

        I am well aware this practice is not new, nor are other practices that seem to arise more for monetary than practical reasons. It’s like half of F1 is/was legit, while the other half is always kind of a cheap circus.

        “Got some bucks and a crappy street course? Sure we’ll let you put on a race! Have a few friends who want their company name on a car that can barely qualify within the 107% time limit? Start a team! No talent? No experience? No problem! Buddy, as long as you have that big wallet around, we’ll keep your seat warm for ya!”

      2. ManOnWheels says:

        These times are long gone. It was when teams like Andrea Moda were started by people who though they just wanted to be in Formula-1 even though their only experience in business was owning a shoe factory when someone like Pedro Diniz was the crown jewel of paydrivers compared to Taki Inoue, Paolo Barilla, Giovanni Lavaggi, Jean-Denis Délétraz, Claudio Langes and Gastón Mazzacane.

      3. NFNLNE says:

        @Mark V
        ‘nor are other practices that seem to arise more for monetary than practical reasons….’

        Are there any reasons more practical than money ones in the context of F1?

      4. Mark V says:

        “Are there any reasons more practical than money ones in the context of F1?”

        @NFNLNE: You may have a point there. However as with any business, one has to carefully assess not only how MUCH money is coming in, but WHERE it is coming from. Otherwise one can paint themselves in a corner that is plain bad for business. Watering down the quality of your product to save some money in the short term may work, but maybe it does not.

        My whole point in this and my other posts is that sometimes taking the quick or easy buck is not the best strategy for a business in the long run. And look what has happened: In the absence of exciting on-track competition, over the past few years F1 has been scrambling to introduce rules that make it more so, and may fans do not like it.

        Perhaps F1 has had no other choice but then again, if the best drivers were always on the grid then maybe the racing would naturally be more competitive and exciting without the gizmos? Surely that would then make F1 a more appealing product to the fans, and hence more profitable?

      5. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        ..but say Pacific and Simtek raced in in certainly one year with 14 teams and 28 cars.

        Plenty of room for the good drivers in the midfield teams.

  23. Denis 68 says:

    James

    What a sad and sorry state Formula One has become.

    The majority of the teams nowdays have to wait for their pay drivers sponsorship cheques to clear before confirming them as as one of their driver.

    Very sad and embarassing for a Formula that calls itself the pinnacle of motorsport.

  24. F1Aficionado says:

    As a Mexican, it makes me happy to see another Mexican driver in the grid. However, when I look at the names (in specific Gutierrez), certainly I think about how bad must be the economical situation at Sauber, considering the Swiss team wants to retain Esteban.

    I’m sick of F1 getting dummy drivers, there are a few other names that should be taking that seat! How can we say that Vettel (or whoever is going to be the next champion), really beat the best of the best?

    I’m sorry for Esteban, because he certainly is a great guy; but racing is not about being nice or not.

    1. Carlos Palomo says:

      Your comment does not make any sense, Aficionado. Gutierrez is not only nice, he is a very good racing car driver.

    2. Random 79 says:

      It worked for Damon Hill :)

  25. darthpatate says:

    Hello and happy xmas to all F1 fans

    we have complained a lot (collectively) about the greater and greater role of tires in the 2013 season but I think there is still another topic taht is seriously showing something is wrong : now we are supposed to be “excited” about sponsorship money ?

    Is that formula 1 ? “will sirotkin money beat guttierez money” ? Will di resta find money to pay for a seat ? Will Kimi get paid ? Is lotus broke ? will caterham and marussia fold ?

    For me what’s really exciting in 2014 is the battle between FA and KR, between LH and NR and “will someone finally stops Seb/RB winning streak” ?

    1. Random 79 says:

      “For me what’s really exciting in 2014 is the battle between FA and KR, between LH and NR and “will someone finally stops Seb/RB winning streak”?”

      100% correct, but since the 2014 season hasn’t started yet this is what passes for news right now.

      Once the testing and racing gets underway we’ll most likely be back to talking about:

      A: Tyres.
      B: How the new regulations affect the racing.
      C: Tyres.
      D: Tyres.
      E: Vettel wins too much.
      F: Tyres.

      Good times :)

      1. ferggsa says:

        Don’t wish too much because it might come true

        You forgot near season’s end
        G: silly season and pay drivers

      2. Random 79 says:

        Yep, the good times :) should have been a ;)

        As for my 2014 talking points wishlist:

        A: How good the new formula is.
        B: Good close racing.
        C: Why isn’t Vettel winning?

    2. aezy_doc says:

      you could always ignore articles that focus on this aspect of F1…

      1. darth_patate says:

        I sure can, and maybe will…but I still wish it were not a big issue as it does not fit with what I like most about F1.

        Let’s be positive and say it’s nice to have something other than Pirelli to chat :)

  26. davey says:

    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.

  27. Alexis says:

    He didn’t get to be a multi billionaire by throwing money at sports sponsorship with a scattergun approach.

  28. Kevin Shiel says:

    Im very surprised that no teams that are in financial trouble reached out for chinese or brazil sponsors. US$30m is like piece of cake for most of the chinese car/oil/lubricant manufactures.

    1. Torchwood Five says:

      You’re aware that Williams has signed Massa, right?

      That is a bridge to getting Brazilian sponsors.

  29. Howard P says:

    How many great drivers, world champions simply wouldn’t be if they entered F1 in this money trumps all atmosphere?

    1. davey says:

      Plenty of ‘F1 greats’ who also used money to get into F1.

      Niki Lauda paid his way into F1, Schumacher took money to his 1991 Jordan drive, Alain Prost was helped by cash from elf, Gilles Villeneuve was picked by Ferrari because they wanted a driver from North America (They initially signed Alan Jones).

      I could list many more.

      The people who seem to believe that the pay driver thing is something new or is worse now than it was are wrong.

      1. Random 79 says:

        +1, there’s maybe just more of an emphasis on them now.

  30. Torchwood Five says:

    Quite happy and relieved for Esteban.

    Glad he gets a second season.

  31. forzaminardi says:

    A bit of a ho-hum pairing for Sauber after a few years of exciting drivers for the Swiss team, but needs must. Sutil will probably do a reasonable reliable job and Guterriez might have a degree of potential unnoticed in 2013. On the alleged Russian investment, since the Minardi Gazprom debacle and then Petrov’s “huge funding”, so far as Russian money is concerned I think F1 teams need take a Jerry Maguire approach – “SHOW ME THE MONEY”. The same might apply to the gentlemen trying to balance the books at Lotus…

  32. Ross says:

    Not the most exciting line up in the world but given the financial climate it makes perfect sense for Sauber to take an expierenced solid mid grid driver that comes with a small pot of money and a driver going into his second season with a huge pot of cash.

    Sauber have shown in the past that they can be quite ruthless when it comes to axing drivers. If Guterriez shows no signs of improvement from last season I don’t expect him to see out the season. Not having Hulkenburg as his team mate will hopefully give us a better indication as to where he really is.

    All the best for 2014 James! Your blog has somehow kept me interested in F1 this year. Keep up the great work! I hope your first post in 2014 is Kobi related.

  33. G Hindle says:

    Pay drivers are going to kill F1 IMO. I need to feel I’m seeing the best drivers.

    1. Random 79 says:

      The best drivers are still going to be at the front in the best cars – nothing to worry about there.

      As for the rest of the field…well, if I was a cynic I’d ask who really cares?

  34. Tyler says:

    I don’t think Esteban showed enough to warrant a second year on merit, he was totally outclassed by Hulkenberg. But it is what it is, this whole pay driver/current state of F1 discussion is becoming redundant.

  35. Peter says:

    Pity at this late stage we could not have a driver swop. Then instead of sponsoring drivers slim could buy lotus for $1 and have team Telmex lotus. That would be exciting and really open up for other sponsors with a full blown Renault backing.

  36. Peter says:

    U saw it first here!
    Likely sponsorship on board.
    Slim other companies (tax deductable and massive raise in his own & group of companies profile)

    Genii would stay

    Visit Mexico. ( needed after weather devastated tourism)

    A clothes brand associated with the drivers

    Maybe more Renault car exposure (asRedbull give non)

    Certain once it moving and on a sound footing a host of other major non clashing sponsors would clam our to get in.

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