Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 21st December 2013

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Esteban Gutierrez retained

Sergey Sirotkin gets test drive

Red Bull restructure


Esteban Gutierrez retained

The news that many Mexican fans will be delighted to hear is that Esteban Gutierrez will be continuing in Formula One next year. He was confirmed in the small hours of the UK to continue next year at Sauber, partnering Adrian Sutil at the Swiss team.

The confirmation comes after the team announced another extension with Mexican telecommunications company, Telmex. The business which has a dominant market share in its native homeland Mexico, is reportedly still looking to break into the European markets.

“I am happy to be able to continue as a driver for the Sauber F1 Team,” the 22 year old from Monterrey said. “It was a steep learning curve last season, but by working closely with the team I was able to improve continuously. It will be my fourth year with the team, the second as a racing driver, and I feel comfortable in taking the next step.”

With the array of regulation changes for 2014, maintaining at least 1 of the 2013 pairing has been seen as important, as proven by Toro Rosso. This coupled with the 6 points he picked up at the Japanese Grand Prix meant he had given sufficient reason for the team to retain his services.

Gutierrez cited this, as he continued, “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.”

The news of Gutierrez’s confirmation quashes the rumours that Vitaly Petrov would be drafted in to the Hinwill based team, to keep their Russian backers happy.

This completes the team line-ups for all of the established teams, with just 1 seat at Marussia and both at Caterham still to be confirmed. Giedo van der Garde looks fairly well placed to take one of the 2014 Caterham drives due to his McGregor backing.

If AON continue to cough up the money to fund Max Chilton, he will also be in a strong position to remain on the grid for next year. The competition for race seats next year is hotting up!

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Sergey Sirotkin gets test drive

The news above regarding Gutierrez will be a relief to many who would still have had visions of a certain young Russian lining up on the grid and being thrown in at the ‘deep end’ for 2014. As TJ13 has stated for weeks, since the announcement of Daniil Kvyat, a race seat for Sirotkin at Sauber has looked unlikely.

The Formula Renault 3.5 driver will take up a test role with the team, and presumably be given FP1 duties at various races throughout the year – most notably in Sochi.  Having only manage 9th in this years Renault 3.5 Championship, being put into a race seat would have, in truth, been madness.

This move will allow the 18 year old to gain some experience  next year and be eased into the sport instead.

In a statement he said, “It’s a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 Team.  I will work hard to improve myself and to extract the maximum out of this opportunity. Formula One is very complex, so it is important to get an opportunity like this.

“My main focus next year, however, will be the World Series by Renault, which is very competitive. This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step.”

So that’s one less crash kid to worry about next year.  Sauber’s insurance company, Interproteccion, will be relieved by the news that a driver with more experience will be at the wheel next year.  Ironically, their world headquarters are in Mexico!  The team and insurance brokers have been partnered since January 2011, when Sergio Perez joined the team.

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Red Bull restructure

With personnel exiting the Red Bull Racing setup seemingly at will some restructuring of the team was needed. Mark Ellis, who has moved to Mercedes and will start there in June 2014, will be replaced by Pierre Wache. The ex- Sauber man will become the team’s new head of vehicle dynamics. This news follows Giles Wood’s departure as well.

In a statement on the Milton Keynes team’s website they said, “Pierre joined the team from Sauber in June and is now well positioned to take on this new role. The team would like to thank Mark Ellis and Giles Wood for their contribution and wish them well for the future.”

First signs of the wheels coming off at Milton Keynes as staff seek a new challenge?

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37 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 21st December 2013

        • Not entirely true, Chilton did tangle with Maldo at Monaco, and that was his fault. Bianchi was just plain unlucky that the crash caused by his teammate in front completely dismembered the tyre barrier, blocking the track, and giving him a DNF.

    • Considering Sitorkin called 2013 his worst season so far it doesn’t exactly paint a great picture for his (would have been) F1 arrival. Just take his crash in Austria earlier this year as an example of why he is not yet ready for the premier series of Motorsport.

    • Also, considering his team boss, Igor Salaquarda, said he is not ready for Formula One, surely that is all the proof that is needed. Seeing as he finished behind Arthur Pic, Charles’ less talented brother, he would hardly be deserving of his place.

      • How conveniently you decide to sketch over the fact that Arthur was in his third season in WSR, while Sirotkin was in his third season. Sirotkin missed a race at Le Castellet because he was testing a Sauber, and had a lot more bad luck than Arthur.

        • That was 1 race out of an entire season. Sirotkin was nowhere near Magnussen, Vandoorne or Da Costa. The facts here are Sergey failed to beat some of the washed up drivers whose careers are stagnating, while others roared ahead.

          Sirotkin went on record to say the car was “capable of winning.” Either these were very silly comments or he did not perform… Forget his driving skills, he isn’t even PR ready for Formula 1.

        • Sirotkin definitely needs at least another season to develop, as he is still only 18. If he can challenge for the 2014 FR3.5 title, then he will be adequately ready for F1 in 2015. You could say the same of others in a similar position like Gasly at Red Bull Juniors, Rowland (ex-McLaren junior), etc. alongside Sainz Jr (RB Junior), returning drivers to the series etc.

          It’s true that since Kvyat was promoted at RB, there was less need to have a Russian on the grid for 2014. And Kvyat is the more ready one as well (and so far the best).

    • w/r/t Sirotkin, if he’s really as talented as whoever’s backing/pushing_for him seems to think, then that talents is not going to dissipate during the one season in which he’s not actively being out-classed or overwhelmed in Formula 1.

      If, on the other hand, he was never talented enough to compete effectively on the F1 grid, then yes, not getting the full race drive at Sauber could mean he never gets another shot. But this seems highly unlikely, or else why would anyone be backing him in the first place?

      Kid’s simply too young to be full-time in F1 in 2014, it sounds. Idk him though so i’m just parroting what the other pundits claim (ppl who prolly don’t know him either). But listen, cream always rises to the top in sports like pro cycling and F1, when extreme natural ability can given the athlete a clear, discernible advantage. If Sirotkin is truly that talented, his ascendency will continue…

  1. So many people leaving red bull. Are they leaving before newey quits and there’ll be a mass-exodus leading to fewer opportunities? 🙂

    • Mercedes has been buying people by the truck load, so I wouldn’t see it as a sign of RB falling apart. They only lost one engineer to McLaren, all others were bought by Merc, who before that cleaned the fridge at McLaren and Lotus, too.
      Merc somehow remind of lamers. who spam 150 spearmen against 5 bezerkes in Stronghold 2. They seem to try buying people until the others have nobody left but office temps to run the shop.

    • Red Bull to sell team after Seb’s contract expires, when he goes to Ferrari…and Red Bull to take over title sponsorship of F1 World Championship (series). …. you heard it here first!

    • The thing is, Sauber had the best car pound for pound in 2012. So who do RB start pinching ideas and personnel from? Cash-strapped Sauber. Their people could really shine at Red Bull. Hence, they don’t need to keep their people as a matter of being competitive.

      RB Title sponsorship does actually sound like credible a long term aim (to maximise exposure).

  2. i’m relatively not very wound up about Gutierrez and could take him or leave him, but now that Sauber has taken another chance w/ him, I genuinely hope he proves more proficient and potent behind wheel of F1 car in 2014. It seems crazy to bring a driver in as an F1 rookie for only a season and then boot them, so I’m glad Gutierrez will have a second full year to ply his trade. If he doesn’t impress by conclusion of 2014, then…[in best Terminator accent]: “Hasta la vista, baby!” …jajaja 😉

    • He’s up to speed now, but is still lacking that consistency and racecraft. Given that Sauber do not have a simulator (which doesn’t help Sirotkin either), it’ll always take their drivers longer to get up to speed to other teams comparatively. By the end of 2014, we’ll know how Gutierrez’s fortunes and consistency will have panned out. Even Grosjean took some time to get comfortable and producing consistently.

      • Yup, all good points, hence why I’m happy he gets a second year to continue progressing. I wonder if that progression will be linear or if it will happen more quickly in 2014 (or more slowly or combination thereof)?

        ” Sauber do not have a simulator (which doesn’t help Sirotkin either)” <–yes good point about lack of sim. I am curious to know how much it would cost to design/develop/install/staff/operate/and_maintain a proper F1 simulator? I reached out to Sauber for details but they were hesitant to share figures. Anyone have a reasonably reliable estimate that's not just a guess? details, please!

        • Since I’m quite the greenhorn here and I don’t quite yet distinguish the inside jokes that have developed here, I’d like to ask whether you really did reach out to them. Just curious.

  3. I realised (not that long ago) that Aon also sponsor McLaren – will Max be in McLaren should he improve ? Are they a surprise bet for McLaren’s next big sponsor? Or am I just overlooking into things, possibly for comical effect? Probably the latter, but hey, nice to speculate, especially over this period of no F1 action

    • Excellent observation DavidD. If he shows some rapid improvement, and Magnussen is a disaster in 2014 you may just realise your dream!

    • Ha , ha. Speculate a little further with Hippo’s rant and a customer 2012 Macca chassis driven by Max, blowing away Button in the 2013 series..Love it.

    • Given that Aon switched to sponsoring Man Utd’s training ground mid-2013, and that Mr. Chilton was fired, I guess that ship has sailed. Surely Mr. Chilton can’t compete with a Russian Oligarch, who paid off £220m of the team’s start-up and running cost debts to this point, just because he felt like it, and to put the team on a more stable financial footing, by buying into the team? But, if they can still out-cash drivers like Pic, VDG, Ericsson, Nasr etc. then there could still be a seat there for Max to tootle about in.

      Rumour is that Kamui Kobayashi is back in the game at Caterham late on! His 6m Euro pot is placing him as the best experienced driver for the lead role there.. Does this leave one seat for VDG or Ericsson? I thought Kamui had given up and repaid his fans their £1.5m, but maybe not! Let’s hope the 2014 Caterham and Marussia are competitive!

      • iirc, max’s very wealthy dad Grahame Chilton is preparing to launch new reinsurance intermediary (as of this month, I think?). Not sure what potential they’d have to continue backing Max. Was the Aon deal only for one year? If so, that would explain why Max wasn’t announced right after Brazil.

        Anyway, yeah so I think his father is on to more lucrative opportunities but that’s w/o going back and trying to find the article. Do you want me to share a link if I still have it saved?

      • here’s a blast from the past, btw:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2837179/Business-Profile-Another-100m-It-wont-change-my-life.html

        Business Profile: ‘Another £100m? It won’t change my life’

        “Grahame Chilton doesn’t know what he wants for Christmas. Not that it matters. Next year’s flotation of Benfield, Britain’s biggest reinsurance broker, should deliver the chief executive up to £100m.
        He will be able to buy anything he wants but he doesn’t seem that interested. “I have any material object I particularly want,” he says. “Through the business, I have been financially comfortable for a long period of time. I don’t see this as changing my life.”

        Chilton, 43, whose fortune is wrapped up in his 12pc stake in Benfield, is even vaguer when I ask him what he does have. There is the Surrey farm where he lives with his wife Nadine and children Tom, 17, Alice, 14, and Max, 11.

        He drives a Land Rover and BMW X5. Does he live luxuriously? He laughs: “That’s a hairy old question, isn’t it? I have a normal family life. I have three kids. I am still married to the girl I went to primary school with. When I am not at work, my life revolves around them…”

  4. Looks like the other teams are clipping Red Bull’s wings. I’d not be surprised if Newey takes time out of F1 to design boats before coming back to F1 for a new challenge. Who knows Vettel might be the key to luring Newey to Ferrari. Though tbh I think people see Newey as some kind of magic bullet that makes your team a winner instantly. He needs the space to create his team and the time to develop a race winning car, which is what Red Bull have given him. Somehow I can’t see a certain somebody at Ferrari giving Newey that kind of freedom or time.

    The romantic in me wants to see Newey return Williams back to the top of F1, but I doubt that will ever happen. That would be a real test of Newey’s skills. From an unlimited budget to a very tight one.

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