Sauber is set to make a reshuffle in its reserve driver ranks, parting ways with Dutch racer Robin Frijns while it moves closer to promote Russian teenage racer Sergey Sirotkin into its ranks.
The eighteen-year-old Russian (pictured above left) has been strongly linked with a race seat at the Swiss outfit, which has had its long-term future secured following a major investment from a Russian investment group headed by Sirotkin’s father.
Sirotkin has already had a seat-fitting with the Sauber team, and this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix will be the first where he attends as a member of the team. He will participate in all engineering briefings and be the designated driver during the team’s pit stop practice sessions.
Sirotkin’s promotion into the Formula 1 spotlight has seemingly come from nowhere, and given his youth and inexperience, it will create a fierce debate as to the merits of young pay drivers in the future of the sport.
Despite Sauber’s obvious – yet futile – protests that his appointment is solely on the basis of his apparent talent, his junior career has rather little to suggest he is F1-worthy.
A winner of the 2012 Formula Abarth European Series in 2012, Sirotkin went on to finish third in last year’s Auto GP World Series (competing in a very thin field) and he lies eleventh in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings with one podium finish.
His progression is bad news for former Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns (above right), whose year has been beset with financial troubles that have seriously limited his motorsport involvement in Formula 1’s feeder GP2 Series. Frijns had a half-day outing in the Sauber C32 at the ‘Young Drivers’ test at Silverstone.