Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber's next race driver, insists he must jump at the chance to enter formula one next year, despite his young age. Not yet 18, news that struggling Swiss team Sauber's new Russian partners will result in Sirotkin being groomed for a 2014 seat has been met with scepticism in the motor racing world.
That's because, if he debuts in March next year, he will smash Jaime Alguersuari's current record as the youngest ever grand prix rookie. "Nobody is arguing that it (his grand prix debut) is not coming early," he told Russia's Championat, "but it's not a chance you get every day. Very many would agree that when the opportunity comes, you are stupid not to use it."
"I do not deny that I would be better prepared by spending another season in the (Renault) World Series, but I have this chance and it should be used because it may be my last," added Sirotkin.
His manager, Nikolay Vetrov, admitted the task to prepare Sirotkin will be "very difficult", but it will begin almost immediately. "The plan will likely begin with testing in August," he said. "Of course it's impossible to test with the new car, but you can with an old one. So we want to do a lot of tests." Asked if he means Sirotkin will test privately in a 2011-spec Sauber, Vetrov confirmed: "Yes, tests with the car that is allowed by the rules of formula one."
It has also been reported that the teenager could appear on some Friday mornings for Sauber this season, to which Vetrov admitted: "I can't say anything about that, but we have set the task to carry out a lot of testing. "Maybe one of them will be practicing on Friday, but I just can't speak of this yet." Vetrov said there was simply no time to arrange for Sirotkin to test at Silverstone this week.
He also admitted that F1's new Russian group explored the same opportunities with other teams, before settling on the Sauber deal. "I admit that I did have contact with several teams in formula one," said Vetrov. "But knowing this team and the legendary Peter Sauber, we immediately found a positive way in our dealings, and common ground on almost all of the issues." (GMM)