Another piece of the 2014 Formula 1 driver market has been placed, with Sauber confirming it has re-signed Esteban Gutiérrez for a second season.
The 22-year-old will partner Adrian Sutil in the team’s Ferrari-powered C33 challenger, while Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin will serve as the outfit’s test driver.
Gutiérrez has been part of the Sauber landscape since 2009, when he first tested for the team at Jerez. He served as the team’s reserve driver in 2012 – having one practice outing at the Indian Grand Prix – before making his full-time debut as Nico Hülkenberg’s teammate last year.
It was a largely inconsistent year that saw him show flashes of speed mixed with the occasional crash, and he finished sixteenth in the Drivers’ Championship standings on the back of his sole points’ finish, a seventh-place at Suzuka.
Heading into his second year of F1 racing, Gutiérrez knows that he will need to lift his game.
“It was a steep learning curve last season, but by working closely with the team I was able to improve continuously,” he said in the team’s media release.
“It will be my fourth year with the team, the second as a racing driver, and I feel comfortable in taking the next step. The technical challenges in 2014 will be massive. Therefore it will be even more important to know well the people you are working with. I will do my very best to improve even more and support the team the best way I can.”
“Last season he experienced first hand how hard it can be for a rookie to step into Formula One,” team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added.
“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. Often the results didn’t fully reflect his performances. I am confident Esteban will be able to use his experiences to gain results, and this will be helped by the fact he is very well acquainted with every member of the race team.”
Gutiérrez’s appointment was followed by confirmation that his long-time backers, the Mexican telco giant Telmex, will continue as a major sponsor of the Hinwil-based team.