Teenager Sergey Sirotkin’s push to become the next Sauber driver is now well underway.
Officially, the Russian’s debut was on Friday, when he demonstrated Sauber’s 2013 car along a 700 metre asphalted stretch of the new Sochi circuit.
“These were my first metres in a Formula 1 car, which obviously is something very special,” said the teenager.
But some publications, including Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo, report that the 18-year-old’s actual debut was over two days recently at the Vairano track in Italy.
Sirotkin has told Russia’s Formula 1news.ru that his next outings will be at the wheel of a Ferrari – who is Sauber’s engine supplier – at the fabled Italian marque’s Fiorano circuit.
It is there that he will push to secure his Formula 1 super license.
“Actually, it’s only a formality,” he said. “We have two days to show race pace over 300 kilometres. I take it very seriously, but I’m not afraid of it. I believe that I can do it.”
Asked to confirm if it will be a Ferrari he will be driving, Sirotkin confirmed: “Yes. The first tests will be at Fiorano.”
He was speaking on Friday in Russia, whereas he should have been qualifying for the Formula Renault 3.5 event in France.
“Yes, we decided that Sochi was the priority,” said Sirotkin, who missed the first race at Paul Ricard but did race on Sunday.
As for who his Sauber teammate in 2014 will be, team boss Monisha Kaltenborn has all but admitted that Nico Hulkenberg is heading elsewhere.
“Drivers come, drivers go,” she told Formula 1’s official website. “Hopefully the team stays and – in our case – remains the fourth oldest.”
Perhaps an all-Russian lineup is possible, as former Renault and Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov has admitted his interest.
“Hulkenberg is likely to leave,” he told Championat, “and they are not too happy with Gutierrez.”
Kaltenborn, however, denied that Sauber is not happy with rookie Esteban Gutierrez, who is closely linked with the team’s Mexican sponsors.
“We will announce our driver lineup, which we always do for one year [at a time], when the time is right,” she insisted. (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.