Sauber has today confirmed that Esteban Gutiérrez will partner Nico Hulkenberg at the team next season. The Mexican won three races and finished third in GP2 this year and was also the team’s driver at the recent young drivers test.
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn commented on the signing:
“Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely,” said Kaltenborn. “In 2010 we signed him up as an affiliated driver, and in 2011 and 2012 he was our test and reserve driver. We mapped out his path to Formula One step by step. Esteban has great talent and now he’s ready to take the leap. We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season with Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez.”
Sauber has had a terrific season with the team in contention for fifth in the Constrictors’’ Championship but with Perez leaving for McLaren the team faced a difficult future. The highly rated Mexican was heavily financed by Telmex and while the sponsorship was confirmed for next season it was imperative that Sauber would be in a position to retain their primary sponsor moving forward. Hiring Gutiérrez puts the team into position to retain their sponsor for the long term and therefore stabilise the team’s financial future.
Speaking this morning Gutiérrez commented on his move to F1:
“After three years working with Sauber I feel very grateful for all the attention I have received from everyone in the team and for all their input, which has allowed me to develop into a Formula One driver in a very progressive way,” said Gutiérrez. “Now, after experiencing other categories of racing as an introduction to Formula One, this is the start of the real challenge to succeed at the pinnacle of motor sport.
“The support from my family, as well as from my sponsors, has been a key factor in getting there and I am very grateful to everyone who has been involved in our project. It will be a great pleasure to be racing in the same team as an experienced driver like Nico Hülkenberg. He will be a good reference point for me and will push me to adapt quickly to F1 competition so we can develop the car together with the team in the best way.”