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Gutierrez confirmed at Sauber, Pic makes Caterham move
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Nov 2012   |  12:19 pm GMT  |  88 comments

On Friday morning in Brazil two more seats on the F1 grid for 2013 were resolved as Sauber confirmed the news which Sergio Perez let slip, that fellow Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, 21, would drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

This leaves Kamui Kobayashi out on a limb.

Meanwhile Caterham has hired 22 year old Charles Pic from Marussia F1 Team. The Frenchman has done a good job this year up against Timo Glock and also comes with a budget and strong French support. As Caterham strengthens its links with Renault, developing road cars and closer ties, Pic fits well in the picture.

Sauber also announced Robin Frijns as test and development driver. He and Gutierrez impressed during the recent Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi.

The feeling in the paddock is that Giedo van der Garde will get the second Caterham seat and Max Chilton will replace Pic at Marussia.

This leaves the second Force India seat alongside Paul di Resta as the focus of interest. Jaime Alguersuari is the obvious choice, having done thousands of kilometres of Pirelli tyre development work for 2013, but Adrian Sutil has forced himself into the reckoning. The German was dropped at the end of 2011 after his conviction for wounding Lotus F1’s Eric Lux in a nightclub brawl in Shanghai.

Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn said, “Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely,” said Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn. “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 One step by step. 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 Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez.”

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1

I think that Kamui Kobayashi will return with Honda. The Japanese automaker usually supply at least two teans in F-1. Kaobayashi will be in the second team.

2

Maybe the answer is an “old codgers” championship. Get them out of the way and open up some seats for the youngsters. Is De La Rosa really going to acheive anything now that he hasn’t already done? Did Schumacher really do anything at Mercedes that Kobayashi couldn’t have done? Barrichello hardly set the world alight in his last year. Much as I like Mark Webber, he’s being made to look like an old man desperately chasing the tail of the Wunderkind.

What happened to the F1 Seniors thing that they started a few years ago? Did it just die a quiet death?

3

Hmm…maybe Kamui can get some rich Japanese businessman to snap up HRT and rebrand it as a Japanese team (why not, it happened before with Super Aguri) to keep him in F1…

4

Jamie suggested that he would definately be in an F1 seat next year. Now that the number of seats are running out, there is a possibility that this “may” not happen.

The F1 business is still cut-throat. If you haven’t signed a contract, then nothing is for certain.

5

Timing is everything in F1, even press releases. I can’t fathom why Sauber announced this so late or just before practice unless Kamui has something worked out to be announced after the race or is confirmed he won’t have a seat in 2013. The Sauber press release ‘final 2 races’ looks like it was written to be announced before Austin anyway.

Whether it was performance or money, the Gutierrez drive was sealed when they signed Hulkenburg and Kamui would have known he was on the way out. Monisha made a straight CEO decision.

I’m pretty sure Sauber designed this year’s car to suit kamui’s liking for high speed corners – its a shame barcelona, silverstone and spa didn’t reap better results. If Sauber were going to keep Kamui, his mistakes in Valencia and Silverstone probably swayed them. They obviously feel Hulkenburg will be more consistent than Koby.

Has a driver ever had to raise funds from fans instead of corporates? Kamui will need Obama skills…

Pay drivers have now moved up into the mid-field teams and are getting younger? Is this a good thing?

6

What about James Calado? Everytime I saw GP2 last year he beat his team mate Guttierez who now has a good drive? In terms of GP2 drivers, him and Chilton ought to be in consideration well ahead of Esteban!

7

well, you should have seen this season’s final standings

8

What about the second seat @ Lotus???? Have Roman been confiremed yet? That would be another hot seat to grab…

9

Interested to seen that Davide Valsecchi [GP2 Champion] is not being mentioned in any of the rumours for the final seats. I wonder if the quality of GP2 is being thinned somewhat.

10

It is sad that we will lose the likes of Heiki and Kobayashi next year but I hope they do not pick up a 3rd seat anywhere.

In the past few seasons we have seen quite a few midseason changes for various reasons. I would be interested to know Jerome D’ambrosio think he had a better chance to display his talents in that one race with Lotus this year than his entire year at Virgin. Unless you do something really exceptional you are not moving up the grid at the new teams.

I’d imagine that 2nd Lotus seat may come under some review at the start of next season if Grojsean does not seem to be learning from his mistakes. Sauber in the past have not been shy of getting rid of under performing drivers mid-season.

Of course, there is the risk that you are completely forgotten about like say Buemi but I reckon it is much better to be not associated with a team than than aligning with one team as a reserve driver.

11

Why not? The 3rd driver role has worked well for some. di Resta and Hulkenberg at Force India spent a year as one before being promoted into a race seat.

Wurz did for Williams. Bottas looks likely to move up as well for the same team.

Toro Rosso used Ricciardo and Vergne in the same role last year. If a driver can do a deal to become the 3rd driver, with the possibility of becoming a race driver the season after, it’s worth taking that gamble in the long run. If you go out of the F1 radar for even one year, chances are you might not get any sort of foot through the door in the sport again.

12

Those are roles for young drivers to get some milage and show what they can do. We know what Koybashi and Kovalainen. If they sign up as say McLarens third driver they are restricted themselves to hoping something goes a miss at that team.

Wurz was a test driver not a 3rd driver and he was surprised as anyone that he got that seat. He admitted half way through that year he much prefered being a test driver.

13

Generally speaking, indeed it is used for young drivers to gain mileage. But like I say, hasn’t stopped more experienced drivers using it as well.

Wurz was a 3rd driver though alongside his testing duties considering he ran during Friday Practices throughout 2006, not just in season testing.

de la Rosa did many 3rd driver runnings during 2005 at Mclaren.

Davidson was a regular ‘3rd driver’ during his BAR/Honda years in 04 and 06. That prepared him well for his Super Aguri stint.

Like I say, the role isn’t just restricted for the youngsters, but it’s a route the teams it seems now prefer to do, now that in season testing is banned these days and obviously young drivers need all the running they can get.

14

Wow, there are some extraordinary reactions to these announcements.

The situation at Sauber probably shows how fine the line is in F1. If Kobayashi had outperformed Perez, he might be the one lined up for McLaren – to entice Honda back, the cynics would say – and Perez the one trying to keep his career alive.

I like Kobayashi (and Kovalainen), but they’ve had good chances in F1 with decent equipment and they haven’t met expectations. If they’re good enough, someone will offer them a drive (see Hulkenberg), but otherwise, it’s just F1.

If Perez, Gutierrez, Chilton, etc. don’t deliver, they’ll be gone as well…

15
Tornillo Amarillo

Yes, yes yes, I told it before HULK-GONZALEZ was the logical lineup, where money rules. More latinos in F1!

16

Maybe you told it before… but you was wrong man, who’s Gonzalez?

17
Tornillo Amarillo

Sorry, I mean GIMENEZ!

18

This really is not on point abut the news of these confirmations, but – – – I was at Austin, and you could see some of the racing in the back of the pack which you never see on TV.

Over the course of this season I have noticed that Kovalainen is always regarded much more highly than Petrov. Why? While he appears to be one of the 2-3 genuinely nice guys in F1, Petrov regularly out qualifies and out races him.

And what about the Williams ‘teammates’ banging wheels toward the end of the race?

19

Heikki has out qualified Petrov 13-6, been the only one to advance to Q2 (twice this season, if I recall correctly) and brought the best race results for Caterham. Can’t see how you can see Petrov regularly outqualifying and outracing him based on those stats.

20

Bad news for Kaumi and Heikki, like many on here I think it’ll be a real shame if they are left off the grid for 2013.

That being said with Mclaren potentially risky move in hiring Perez, maybe the 3rd driver seat with them would be something worth gunning for. I get the sense Ron may not be overly happy with the driver line up for 2013 and unless there is significant commercial backing a mid-season change might not be out of the question. (I know Paffet is the current 3rd driver, but if he was going to have a chance it would have happened by now)

With the AABAR sale of Mercedes shares and purchase of additional STR shares is it possible they have bought a say in the team driver line up? I thought AABAR originally came to STR, with CEPSA because of Alguersuari, could he move back to the team?

FIndia would be wise in my eyes to go for Heikki, Senna or Kamui. Whilst Alguersuari has experience of the 2013 Pirelli compounds he doesn’t know the impact of the aero changes of the new tyres, and hasn’t raced for anywhere for 12 months. Sutil had his chance.

How about a 3rd driver championship running exclusively on Fridays? 20 lap races with 4 engines and 2 gearboxes for the season.

Red Bull – Felix De Costa, Ferrari – Kobayashi, Mclaren – Kovalinen, Lotus – D’Ambrosio, Mercedes – Davidson, Sauber – Fijins, Findia – Karthikeyan, Williams – Wolff, STR – Alguersuari, Marussia –Chilton, Caterham – Rossi

21

“How about a 3rd driver championship running exclusively on Fridays? 20 lap races with 4 engines and 2 gearboxes for the season.”

What about the support categories then though?

All there practice/qualifying is done on Fridays, There’s simply no room in the schedule for anything else to happen on Fridays.

22

Drop a Friday FP session for the F1 teams.

Not all events have busy support race schedules. A 3rd driver event as I suggested could be run in its entirety in 90 minutes.

23

What a brilliant idea 🙂

24

F1 is 1 teetering on the brink of something potentially damaging. I think the FIA needs to consider regulating team appointments with regards to the lack of experienced drivers shaping current and future grids. Perhaps a new rule needs to be considered whereas teams are limited to only 1 (pay) driver with no prior F1 experience every two years.

25

The FIA *do* regulate it.

They won’t issue a Super License to someone who hasn’t a) won a championship in a lower series or b) done a serious number of testing miles in an existing F1 car.

26

Unless your name is Kimi 😉

27

With limited testing under the agreed RRA, I am hoping we do not see someone seriously injured, or worse, due to the increased trend of moving to inexperienced pay drivers.

28

There was even more pay/inexperienced drivers in F1 in the past & it didn’t cause any issues then so I can’t see it been a problem now.

29

Strange how everything in F1 is usually seen by the fans as something new, no matter how long it’s been going on for. A newcomer to the sport reading these pages would think that pay-drivers and looking after tyres were new ideas. Both go back to the era of the 21 litre monsters.

30

i would say jules bianchi is the obvious choice although ALG deserves a second chance

31

Max Chilton not good enough for f1. Only there because of money. Such a shame guys like kamui and heikki losing out to this boys with a big deal behind them. I’m not happy with the way f1 is going these days in some areas.

32

I agree, it’s going from Formula One to Formula Wallet. In a few years from now, F1 won’t have the best drivers in the world, just the richest.

33

It’s always been like that. Herman Lang stood out as a pre-war Mercedes driver because he worked his way up from being a mechanic, a fact that the aristocrat Von Brauhitsch never let him forget (they’d go for a drink after the races and VB would order “three bottles of champagne, and a beer for Lang”). The very first racing drivers often paid the teams for a seat. I’m pretty sure Mansell had mortgaged everything to become a driver. Lauda had to go begging to a rich relative for funds (he was refused and never spoke to the guy again).

As for a lot of the old japanese drivers – they used to pay fortunes for seats, and rarely even qualified.

34

An interesting set of moves within the driver market. Firstly, I’m quite glad that Pic will have another year in F1. It’s hard to impress when you’re at the back, not to mention the whole pay tag as well, but he’s competed strongly against Glock and this could be a good move for him. I think it’s now certain we’ll see Max Chilton alongside Glock at Marussia.

The Gutierrez move sadly down to money. He’s not a bad driver by any means, but I didn’t see much wow factor about him during his 2 years in GP2. But Sauber need the money, so he was going to be the only option alongside Hulkenberg. The move itself is nsurprising given for many weeks they weren’t exactly singing Kamui’s praises, even after his Suzuka podium. You just had the feeling even then he was going. I think it’s highly unlikely now we’ll see him on the grid in 2013, which is such a shame. A real fans favourite.

Lastly, it looks like being Kovalainen’s last weekend in F1. So much promise and expection when he came into F1. I believe he could do a very good job for a higher team, but we may never know now. Although Team Lotus/Caterham saved his career, and Heikki has more than repaid the job, it seems that hasn’t been enough to attract other teams to make the move for him.

It feels sad in a way that although we’re getting new talent coming through, it’s debateable if some are totally worthy of a seat of the ones who look set to drop out, all because of money. F1 needs to keeping working to reduce the cost even more.

35

I cannot see the logic of Caterham pairing Pic with van der Garde. That would be a very inexperienced driver line-up in a team that needs more. For sure Heikki and Kamui need to stay in F1, hopefully they can get one of the still vacant seats. I think Sutil has had his chance, and certainly Kamui and Alguersuari have more potential than him.

36

I don’t understand how Heikki can go from being in the running of a top seat to being out of a drive? Makes no sense.

37

When does F1 ever make sense? F1 is a tough business, no room for feelings. Like Flavio Briatore used to say: “Business is S%^!”

38

No drive for Heikki next year? What a shame. Wasn’t he rated as one of the top 5 drives last year and has also driven well this year?

Surely he should get the Force India seat?

39

Hi James, interesting article as always!

I don’t usually comment but I always check your fantastic blog.

I was wondering what’s the future for the GP2 Champion and runner up, Valsecchi and Razia. Once again, like Pantano (champ) and Filippi (runner-up) before, these drivers have pretty much nowhere to go. Do you have any insight?

40

Alguersuari is making the same use of the Pirelli role that de la Rosa and Heidfeld did, although this year Lucas di Grassi was there too. I dont see value in Sutil returning, i can only imagine he still has valuable personal sponsorship which unfortunately looks more important than i can remember from recent memory. Begs the question then why does Petrov look like getting dropped? Was his backing ever material or always just “potential” from Russia? Kovalainen will be missed though. Whether he was exposed at McLaren as inadequate or still too young and inexperienced to handle himself, at Renault he looked fast and at Lotus/Caterham he’s been one of the sports “nice guys”.

41

And Heikki?

42

I cant help wondering exectly how these tail end teams think they are ever going to get themselves up the grid by getting rid of the likes of Kovalainen, when it is clearly their cars rather than their drivers that need replacing.

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