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Sauber test driver Sirotkin calls de Silvestro a “marketing move”

Jun 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

AUTO-PRIX-F1-MONZA-ITA-PRACTICE Getty Images

Sergey Sirotkin has said that he is not concerned about fellow Sauber test driver Simona de Silvestro, calling her a “marketing move”.

Sirotkin joined Sauber midway through last season as a reserve driver with the view of claiming a full-time seat in 2014. At the time, he was just 17 years old, and due to become the youngest driver in the history of Formula 1 had he started a race.

However, the plans did not materialize. Some of the investment that came with his signing fell through, and Sauber eventually opted to retain Esteban Gutierrez and sign Adrian Sutil from Force India.

For 2015, there is a five-way fight for two seats at Sauber. As well as Sirotkin, Gutierrez and Sutil, former IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro has been signed with plans to give her a full-time drive in 2015. So far, she has taken part in two tests for the team, with the most recent being yesterday in Spain.

The fifth driver in the running is Giedo van der Garde. The Dutch driver spent a season at Caterham in 2013 before joining Sauber for this season, and also has sights on a full-time seat at the Swiss team in 2015.

For Sirotkin, van der Garde is his biggest rival for a seat, dubbing de Silvestro a “marketing move”.

“At Sauber there is a third driver, Giedo van der Garde, a test driver, myself, and a sponsored driver, the person they are helping to reach the level of Formula 1,” Sirotkin explained to Russian website F1News.ru.

“But I think that is a marketing move, so I do not take it as something to be afraid of. Let’s see what happens.”

Sirotkin also went on to reveal that he is due to take part in practice for the Russian Grand Prix in October.

“I was actually supposed to participate in free practice not only in Sochi, but it is an open question,” he said. “Obviously, in terms of marketing, public interest and so on, the logical thing is to do it in Sochi, but we cannot yet say whether this will happen in Sochi or the next track.

“At the moment, my priority is World Series by Renault, so I do not plan to give preference to other cases in F1 if they can complicate my task or hinder my performance in this championship. It may give the impression that there was a lull but, in fact, it is not.”

Sirotkin’s performances in World Series by Renault over the past three years have been largely underwhelming, and he is probably the least suitable driver of the five in the running for the seat at Sauber. The irony of his comments is that without his backing, it is unlikely that he would be close to a Formula 1 seat.

For the time being though, the fight for the seats at Sauber remains open. With no points to show of so far in 2014, the team will be hoping that Sutil and Gutierrez can secure a top ten finish at some point soon to kick-start its campaign.

  1. indycarseries500 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    I agree Sauber never had any intentions of putting her in a seat, they don’t even mention her as an employee, she’s an “associated driver” which I’m sure means “We’ll take your money let you drive a 2 year old car, mess around on the simulator, and make you think you have a chance at a race seat while we continue to take your money”

  2. manik56 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    He may be right, but he is a ride buyer who can’t even get his liscense. He would be better off shutting his mouth. I guess he is only a kid though.

  3. testover6370 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Pot, kettle, but either away it is a race for a seat at the back of the grid if they even make it to 2015 which I doubt at this point. Come back to Indycar Simona.

  4. techmeister1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    While I would expect that whomever gets the Sauber seats in ’15 will have to earn them, I’m not so certain Simona was planned for a ’15 seat. That being said it’s not smart calling her a “marketing move” even if you believe this to be the case. It shows immaturity and a lack of professionalism that most teams and sponsors would not take kindly.

    As far as Sauber’s financial limitations, I have come up with a excellent solution to two current F1 issues that should make many people happy.

    Dietrich Mateschitz should become a co-sponsor of Sauber F1 for the next two years, backing them with $100 M per season. This will allow Sauber to develop their car and have the resources to get back towards the best of the mid-field group. Then after two years when it’s time to renew with Red B.S. Racing, Dietrich should sign Sauber as the official Red Bull Racing team. Then he would have a scrupulous group representing the Red Bull Brand and an F1 team capable of running at the front of the grid. There is no way the current Red B.S. Racing clan will ever escape their reputation as chronic cheaters so Mateschitz should IMO dump them A.S.A.P. It would be a win-win situation for the brand and Sauber.

  5. kitnamania13 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    The seats are going to go to whomever can bring the most money. Gutierrez has TelMex, Sirotkin has NIAT, and Van de Garde has McGregor. I’m not sure where Simona’s money comes from, but I doubt it’s anywhere near the other 3. Talent-wise, Van de Garde punched above his weight in the Caterham, but I don’t think his war chest is nearly as big as those of the Mexican and the Russian.

  6. bigriverjimmy - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    If you guys think Red Bull is the only team bending the rules or cheating i have some sweet ocean front property in Nevada i will sell you. its racing every team cheats. Some teams just get caught.

  7. techmeister1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:53 PM

    With my suggestion for Mateschitz Sauber would not need to be concerned with paying drivers. In addition Red B.S. Raping is the ONLY team on the grid that has been caught cheating multiple times every season for the past four seasons and also this year already… They not only have a image problem they have a mentality problem. They think cheating is acceptable and they have no clue what the purpose of motorsport is. It’s certainly NOT meant to tarnish your sponsor’s brand by constantly illustrating how unscrupulous you are as a team…

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