Monisha Kaltenborn has admitted she recently met with Vitaly Petrov
. It emerged on Thursday that Russian Petrov, reportedly with EUR 30 million in Gazprom sponsorship in his pocket, could return to F1 next year in the place of Sauber
's intended 2014 race driver Sergey Sirotkin
. Team boss Kaltenborn told the Russian website f1news.ru: "We saw Vitaly in Sochi (for a F1 demonstration) in September and, as we know, we talked. No more than that," she insisted.
However, Sauber's rhetoric about Sirotkin appears to have changed. While recently the team was obviously pushing hard to ready the 18-year-old for his 2014 debut, Kaltenborn now sounds open to the idea of a change of plans. "Of course, no one will put pressure on him if something does not add up," she said. "But we still believe in Sergey, even if it is true that if our plans for him cannot be achieved, then there are other elements of the cooperation."
Asked if a more experienced driver could race in 2014 while Sirotkin learns the ropes in a reserve role, Kaltenborn answered: "We have thought about that, and we have a number of options associated with different drivers." She insisted, however, that her talks with Petrov last month were not serious. "We didn't talk about the extent to which he is available," Kaltenborn smiled. "I asked him what he's doing now, and Vitaly told me about his ascent of Mount Everest!"
Team founder Peter Sauber
, meanwhile, sounded happy to simply keep Nico Hulkenberg
and Esteban Gutierrez
at the wheel in 2014. "We are pleased with both drivers," he is quoted by Blick newspaper. "I would actually like to keep them." (GMM)