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Monday November 26, 2012
SAO PAULO: Sauber have doubled the number of Mexicans on the Formula One starting grid by announcing Esteban Gutierrez will step up from reserve driver to the race seat next season.
The promotion of the Monterrey-born 21-year-old meant Mexico will have two drivers on track in 2013 for the first time since the 1968 Mexican Grand Prix, when Pedro Rodriguez and Moises Solana lined up at the start.
Gutierrez replaces 22-year-old compatriot Sergio Perez, who is moving to McLaren as replacement for Mercedes-bound Lewis Hamilton, and will partner Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg in an all-new lineup.
“To be honest, I don’t know if I’m ready yet...but definitely I feel I am comfortable to do the next step in my career,” the younger Mexican told reporters at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
“It’s important to take it in a very realistic way. Of course I am going to try to adapt as quickly as possible...one of the main goals is to be consistent.
“It’s difficult to say right now or judge how ready I am,” continued Gutierrez, who has been racing in the GP2 support series for the past two years.
“But definitely I’m doing my best and I’ve been using all the time I have on the track to improve my knowledge of the car, not only the driving itself but also the feedback I can give to the team.”
Swiss-based Sauber, a solid mid-table team with big Mexican sponsors and close links to Ferrari, have had four podium finishes this season and are sixth overall, 12 points behind Mercedes.
Dutchman Robin Frijns, also 21, will take over Gutierrez’s role as reserve at Sauber while Kamui Kobayashi, Japan’s only current race driver, will be leaving the team.
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn hoped Kobayashi would find somewhere else and recognised the sport could otherwise suffer a backlash in Japan at the absence of a popular driver who finished third in his home race this year. — Reuters
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