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On Friday, Sauber confirmed that Esteban Gutiérrez will join their race line-up for 2013. At the same time, Dutchman Robin Frijns was named as the new reserve driver, having in previous years won titles in Formula BMW Europe and Formula Renault 2.0. The current Formula Renault 3.5 Champion chats exclusively with GPUpdate.net.
Sauber has historically had an eye for young talents. Indeed, 11 years ago Kimi Räikkönen joined with just 24 cars races under his belt. In 2002, Felipe Massa made his F1 debut. More recently, Sergio Pérez has impressed and he now heads off to McLaren for 2013.
“At Sauber, you’re able to develop in peace,” 21-year-old Frijns explains. “If you start out with a team like McLaren, a lot is very much expected of you. In my case, I’ll be able to learn and make a few mistakes without any enormous consequences.”
Frijns’ reserve role with the Hinwil-based squad will resemble that of compatriot Giedo van der Garde at Caterham this season. “I’ll go along to every Grand Prix and will also be present at the winter test sessions,” he continues. “Just how much I might be driving, I dare not say right now! It’s just too early to know. Also next year, I’d like to participate in some form of racing championship, but I have no money for a year in GP2 or even World Series by Renault, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
The lack of funds comes down to a general struggle to find new sponsorship.
“Of course I hope for a race seat, but everyone knows that the economic crisis is not helping; but when we saw that Sergio Pérez had left and that (Mexican communications giant) Telmex stayed with Sauber, it was obvious what was going to happen,” Frijns adds, referring to the addition of Gutiérrez, who is backed by Telmex and its owner Carlos Slim, who is the richest man in the world. “Money rules the roost with the midfield teams, such as Sauber and Williams…it plays a very large role.
"Nonetheless, I’m very happy to be starting out with Sauber. We’ll work hard and can hopefully learn a lot next year.”
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