Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber, Monza, 2013

Sauber will race Sirotkin if he gets superlicence

2014 F1 season

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Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber, Monza, 2013Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn confirmed the team will race Sergey Sirotkin in F1 next year providing he completes enough mileage to gain his superlicence.

The 18-year-old Russian driver needs to complete 300km at the wheel of an F1 car in two days to gain the necessary licence to race in F1.

“We know that we would like to have Sergey next year as our driver but he still needs a superlicence and that’s something which he should take seriously,” said Kaltenborn in a press conference at the Italian Grand Prix.

“So we shouldn’t think that he’s just going to get it like that. We are convinced he can do it, we will do our best to prepare him, but it still is a big step.”

“If that all works out we will see what options we have and announce that in due course.”

Sirotkin will be the youngest driver ever to start an F1 race if he is on the grid in March next year.

Kaltenborn said the potential return of the Mexican Grand Prix would not necessarily have a bearing on whether they retain Esteban Gutierrez for next season. She pointed out their association with the driver pre-dated their backing from Mexican sponsor Telmex:

“We started our relationship with Esteban much before we actually got into contact with Telmex because he came into the Formula BMW programme and from there he progressed with the team.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Sauber will race Sirotkin if he gets superlicence”

  1. Seems there is no stopping them. Or could the FIA prevent it? I guess not, because he would get his car time at latest during pre season testing.

    1. He already has more single seater open wheel races under his belt than Kimi Raikkonen did before he started. The uproar created about Kimi was more about his experience than his age, although that was mentioned too. Sirotkin is younger, but has more experience than Kimi did. The FIA age requirement for a Grade A license is 16 years old. Other than that there is no age limit for the super license, just the 300k testing requirement at racing speeds over a 2 day maximum.

      I’m not advocating either way here, he could be a virtuoso driver who has developed more quickly than others regardless of age. He could be the next guy who started too soon or the next Maldonado, fast but bad decision making at any age. We don’t really know. Most arguments seem to be because of his age or comparisons of what happened to other drivers. But, he could be the exception. Kimi was. There were some people absolutely screaming about letting Kimi into F1 with less experience than what Sirotkin has now. Don’t here any complaints about Kimi now. The point being, every driver, every person is different.

      I believe he will drive next season and I think he will do as well as the Sauber car will allow, that is my gut feeling.

      1. *Don’t hear any complaints about Kimi now…

      2. @bullmello Kimi will have had far more test time though, no? Since testing was then unrestricted?

        1. @vettel1 – Honestly, I’m not too sure. I know he did the 300k to get his super license. I know Sirotkin has more seat time in actual races than Kimi had. People seem to really be agitated by his age and I guess I can understand that. But, his skills and experience look pretty good. If he can get his super license, I wish him well in F1 and hope surprises in a good way.

      3. Whatever the case, if he does race, he is in for a lot of flak should he cause an accident.

        1. As should any driver on any track in any series. I would almost be willing to wager that if Sirotkin is racing in F1 next season and if Pastor Maldonado still has a seat next season, that Maldonado will cause more incidents next season than Sirotkin. What is Maldonado’s age?

          1. Oh yaaa, interesting to compare accidentability of Maldonado vs Sirotkin :)…good comment, looking forward to see that already.
            PS. Tests are limited for current car only, you can test the last year car (which is not much different anyway) as much as you want, so don’s see any problem getting 300K and license. He can do it in October while testing new SOCHI track.

  2. Can’t they put him in an old Sauber ?

    1. I thought the rule states it needs to be a current chassis, or something “relevant”. If the FIA decided earlier this season that a two year old Ferrari is not relevant during the tire-gate stuff, then IDK how they’re going to say a two year old Sauber is relevant…
      But I could be wrong about that rule. Definitely the FIA would have to make an exception for this kid to get it or maybe he can acquire it in preseason testing next year? IDK if that is also allowable for Superlicensure.

      1. They’re developing a testing program for him soon in an older car, 2011, because that is permitted. He would then be able to do preseason testing in a current car to try to qualify for his superlicense in 2014.

  3. if he starts next march, lets hope he would not be incident prone

    1. If he starts next March, I hope Sauber will be able to give him a car that can compete for points.

      1. Somehow I think the risk of him having incidents is bigger then that of him scoring points.

        1. He is not appeared from nowhere, he is well know driver in open wheel race world with good history.
          I don’t see why he will change himself in F1 and start causing much incidents?
          Next year we will have Turbo motors, and big change to a driving style and completely new car, I would expect younger drivers to adapt quicker to that.

  4. Dear goodness it’s happening…

    So Alguersuari said stepping into the sport as young as he was back then was a mistake, Hamilton admitted he wasn’t ready at Sirotkin’s age… I mean, what more advice does he need? I know there is pressure from Russia and I get that Sauber doesn’t want to lose the deal, but they need to convince the Russians that Sirotkin is simply too young, no matter there being a Russian GP coming up.

    I mean, this isn’t just about Sirotkin or Sauber, this is about F1’s credibility in general. It’s so extremely sad and it would be so good for Sirotkin’s career if he just waited for a year or two, three.

    1. Do you know what Alguersuari and Hamilton have in common? They’re not Sirotkin. The only person who knows how ready Sergey Sirotkin is is Sergey Sirotkin.

      1. Actually i don’t think Sergey Sirotkin knows if his ready ether.

    2. what more advice does he need?

      I don’t think any young driver who dreams of F1 would ever turn it down. And I wouldn’t expect them to.

  5. I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t put his hands up and admitted he isn’t ready for this. If I were in his position I’d be terrified. Most people only get one chance in F1 and if you blow it, you won’t get another.

    There’s a prime example in the Sauber already. Watching Esteban Gutierrez rise through the ranks, obliterating the competition on Formula BMW and winning the inaugural GP3 series, I genuinely believed he was a future world champion in the making. He finished a very reasonable 3rd in GP2 last year (best of the rest behind the runaway leaders) so if he had been given an extra year in GP2, I’m certain he would have absolutely dominated the series and come to F1 as a far more complete and confident driver. But instead, for whatever reason (money, convenience, whatever) Sauber decided to put him into F1 this year, and frankly it’s been disastrous. If he ends up losing his place in Sauber this year, then he’s gone. An enormous talent wasted because he was put into F1 one year too soon. And it amazes me that Sirotkin (who is far less prepared and arguably less impressive than Esteban) has seen what has happened to Gutierrez and still thinks it is a good idea for him to start next year.

    He may well be the next Sebastian Vettel for all we know. But that’s not going to matter if he ends up throwing away his career by having a crack at the pinnacle several years too soon.

    1. Most people only get one chance in F1 and if you blow it, you won’t get another.

      Most people doesn’t even get one chance in F1

      1. +1 So true, and this may be Sirotkin’s only chance.

      2. So would you say that R. Grosjean was very very lucky to get that drive in 2012? Or was it just sponsorship from Total?

        1. The question on hand is, should Sirotkin put his hand up and say I’m not ready?
          Sponsorship getting him into that position is irrelevant.

          This may or may not be his only chance for F1. I don’t blame at all for doing whatever it takes to get into F1.

    2. @jacksteeg – I think it’s unreasonable to expect him to do the “right thing” and step aside on the basis of his age and his age alone. When he makes his debut in Australia, he will be old enough to be considered an adult by law.

      Sirotkin’s comments on this have been a case of “I might not be ready, but I might not get another chance, so I have to be ready when the time comes”, which I think is the right attitude.

  6. Michael Brown (@)
    6th September 2013, 19:32

    I have a feeling Sauber is going to keep Gutierrez, which means Hulkenberg’s seat will be taken. Hopefully he’s found a new team soon.

    1. That would be not really fair, gutierrez hasn’t impressed whatsoever this year..

      and be honest, a rookie year is always a make or break year, he’s not an exception.

      this provides a flow in new rookies, that’s how it should be.

      If Hulkenberg gets pipped, I’d be very disappointed, he’s the biggest talent out there without a top seat.

      1. While Gut is in his ‘rookie year’, I think it’s a bit harsh to come down on him like most have. It’s one thing to go into F1 as a rookie but its a bit different to be thrown into F1 a year too early and KNOW it’s not the best thing for you. Him knowing probably isn’t a good mentality either.

        Another year in GP2 or even WSBR would have been perfect for Esteban with friday drives too.

        But if he gets kicked off the team, expect the same thing to happen to Sergey. What he needs is what Esteban didn’t have, and thats another year of junior formula.

        If Russia is that desperate for a Russian driver at the Russian GP, they should know where to look. Someone with experience and a podium under his belt.
        But I doubt Vitaly will ever be in the sport again.

  7. From that photo looks like Sauber are promoting a 15-year old to the first team.

    Good luck to the guy but I think it’s a mistake, he should be spending 2014 in a third driver/Friday practice role at the most. I doubt that brings in much sponsor dollar though.

  8. F1 is in such a sad state as teams are having to pimp their cars out for sponsoirship money to stay afloat. I would be suprised if Hulkerberg keeps his seat because getting rid of Gutierrez may mean parting with Telmex money. It may be a blessing in disguise anyway, because if Kimi jumps ship and returns to Ferrari, then a Lotus seat is open. If Kimi stays and Ferrari get rid of Massa, then an opportunity may open up for him with the Scuderia.

  9. Nico should start spending more time at the casino, I guess. :(

  10. OK so here is my biased opinion.
    I like Esteban Gutierrez and I want him to do well, and although he has had a bit of unluck the last couple of races, where it seemed he was already gaining terrain on the more experienced HĂĽlkenberg, I can’t argue with the fact that he has been about half a second a lap slower than Nico for the first half of the season. I will be extremely disappointed if Esteban loses his seat for next year. I wanted him so bad to be top class when he came to Formula 1, he is a very good young driver. And the important word for me from that sentence is “young”. He is very young. I would have given him at very very least one more year in GP2. And that is also why I think Sirotkin is also going to fail. He might be extremely talented, but you he is just a kid.

    There is also the argument that Kimi had less experience in open wheeled categories than him when he entered Formula 1, but he was not 18 years old. Age matters. You have to reach certain degree of maturity if you want to compete on such a high level.
    On an example not related to motorsport, in the country where I live at the moment, the current state of the education system is allowing some engineering students to graduate at the age of 20, 21. When they go to a company they get sent back almost immediatly because they are just not prepared. They might have all the theory necessary for the job and excellent grades, but they don’t know what to do with what they’ve learned and are not yet ready to deal with the pressure of having a big project that has to be turned in on time and make the clients happy. The state of the mind matters a lot.

    So in the same way I think Gutierrez is too young and therefore not able to deliver what he should or could, I also think Sirotkin will make a mess of his first F1 season, given he starts already next year. I might be wrong, and I hope I am for Sauber’s sake, they need to catch a break, but I’m sticking to my opinion.

    1. +1
      Absolutley right.

  11. The day this kid buys himself onto the grid is the day F1 stops being a sport about competition and excellence.

  12. You know, I do believe he is being brought to F1 a year too early (at least), but considering the criticism he’s getting (a Russian lady on Facebook blamed Sergey for allowing money to be spent in this way, instead of improving the state of Russia’s hospitals!!), I hope he does well. That will be mighty tough if he’s paired with Bianchi next year, though. Still, I hope he puts a good account of himself, and silences the innumerable critics he’s garnered.

    1. Then again, being paired with a teammate like Bianchi may actually be a boon in disguise because he will be able to learn a lot from him.

  13. Regardless of the money that is involved he must has a decent level of ability if they are really going to give him a seat but I do believe that Sauber will be playing a dangerous game if it is Sergey and Estaban in the team next year. I really do hope I’m proved wrong and we see Sauber back in the top ten on a regular basis.

  14. It’s a good thing he’s bringing a lot of money to the team, Sauber are going to need it to repair the cars Sirotkin crashes every weekend.

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