Sauber have completed their 2014 driver line-up by revealing they will be retaining the services of Esteban Gutierrez.
The 22-year-old Mexican made his debut with the Swiss team in 2013 and had a mixed opening season, ending his rookie year with six points to his name – all of which came courtesy of a seventh place finish in Japan – finishing the year 45 points behind team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
Following the announcement that Hulkenberg would return to Force India for the 2014 season, Sauber wasted little time in hiring German driver Adrian Sutil ahead of the new season. The arrival of Sutil fills the void left by the departure of Hulkenberg to rivals on the grid, Force India, although the identity of the second Sauber driver had been in doubt since the end of the season.
While it had been widely-expected that Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin would be promoted to replace Gutierrez in the Sauber seat this year and join Sutil, the 19-year old was deemed too inexperienced to be granted an F1 license, making the decision to retain Gutierrez for another season – not to mention to small matter of Sauber’s continued sponsorship with a Mexican telecommunications company.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn admitted that while Gutierrez had often struggled during last season’s race calendar, he had done enough to prove he was worthy of another year in the Sauber seat.
“Last season he experienced first hand how hard it can be for a rookie to step into Formula 1,” Kaltenborn said.
“Nevertheless, throughout the season he improved significantly in qualifying as well as in the races and finished the year as the best rookie in the drivers’ championship.
While Betfair are offering some fantastic odds ahead of the new season, it would take a sensational start to the year for Sauber to enter many people’s thoughts as potential title challengers in 2014.
Info: Celia Roche, Image: Sauber