Dec 20, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT
Sauber has completed its roster for the 2014 Formula One World Championship, as Russian racer Sergey Sirotkin has been announced as the team’s test driver alongside race drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez.
Sirotkin, who finished ninth in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship with podium finishes at Aragon, Spain and the Hungaroring, became a development driver for Sauber this summer as part of an initiative by Russian investors to help ease the Swiss team’s financial problems.
The original plan was to install Sirotkin in a Sauber race seat, but instead, the 18-year-old will look to gain more experience through his testing role and another season of FR3.5.
“It’s a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 Team,” Sirotkin said in a statement. “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 [Formula Renault 3.5], which is very competitive. This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step.”
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said that Sirotkin would have the team’s full backing as he progresses toward F1.
“We have been working with Sergey since August, and he has been able to gain more and more insight into Formula One,” she said. “Now he is taking the next step towards the top level of motorsport in his new role as a test driver.
“Our experience of him is as a very focused, calm and talented driver. Now we will continue to support him, including obtaining his [FIA] super license. Our goal remains to prepare him for a debut in Formula One.”