Sauber is expected to replace one Mexican racer with another, after its McLaren-bound driver Sergio Pérez let slip that the Swiss team has promoted Esteban Gutiérrez to its race line-up for the 2013 season.
The team has already confirmed that Nico Hülkenberg would join its line-up next year, and made it clear that the identity of his team-mate would be revealed over the course of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“The car will be strong because the rules don’t change much, and the team have a good experienced driver in Nico and he will have a strong team-mate in Esteban,” Pérez said on Thursday.
Pérez has quite probably let the cat out of the bag here in confirming that the team’s reserve driver was getting a leg up after two years as the team’s reserve driver, but the announcement will hardly come as a surprise.
The rumours of Gutiérrez’s promotion have been doing the rounds ever since Pérez’s departure to McLaren was announced, particularly given the clout that Sauber’s main sponsor – the Mexican telecommunications giant, Telmex – undoubtedly wields behind the scenes.
Having won the Formula BMW Europe and GP3 Series titles, Gutiérrez had his first F1 test outing three years ago. He’s been a part of the GP2 Series landscape for the past two seasons, and finished third overall this year with three race wins.
This year also saw the 21-year-old enjoy his maiden Grand Prix outing when he stood in for an unwell Pérez in the opening practice session at the Indian Grand Prix. He later drove for the team at the ‘Young Drivers’ test session at Abu Dhabi (pictured).
Should the team confirm the news this weekend, that would leave current driver Kamui Kobayashi on the driver market and scrambling to try and land one of the few remaining available drives on the 2013 grid.
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