Sauber drop Kamui Kobayashi for Mexican youngster Esteban Gutierrez in 2013
Promoted Mexican youngster to partner Nico Hulkenberg
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 06/12/12 3:05pm
Sauber have confirmed that Esteban Gutierrez will replace Kamui Kobayashi next season.
The team have also announced that Dutchman Robin Frijns will in turn replace Gutierrez to become their third driver in 2013.
Gutierrez's promotion means that, with Nico Hulkenberg already confirmed as the successor to the McLaren-bound Sergio Perez, the team will have an all-new line-up for next season.
The announcement has been long expected in the paddock, with the youngster's candidature bolstered by substantial financial backing from the same Telmex company as Perez. However, Sauber have insisted that he was selected on merit alone.
"Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely," said Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn. "In 2010 we signed him up as an affiliated driver, and in 2011 and 2012 he was our test and reserve driver. We mapped out his path to Formula One step by step. Esteban has great talent and now he's ready to take the leap. We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season with Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez."
For his part, the 21-year-old is naturally delighted to have been given a place on the grid for next season.
"It is really great news and I am very thankful to the team for trusting my abilities to make the next step in my career into Formula 1," he told Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle.
"It is a very special feeling. Something I have never experienced before but I try to take it positively and calmly and it is important to stay focussed on what is important and focus on my preparation."
Gutierrez has been part of the Sauber family for many years as they groomed him during his junior career, and that is guidance the Mexican is very grateful for.
"After three years working with Sauber I feel very grateful for all the attention I have received from everyone in the team and for all their input, which has allowed me to develop into a Formula One driver in a very progressive way," he said.
"Now, after experiencing other categories of racing as an introduction to Formula One, this is the start of the real challenge to succeed at the pinnacle of motor sport.
"It will be a great pleasure to be racing in the same team as an experienced driver like Nico Hülkenberg. He will be a good reference point for me and will push me to adapt quickly to F1 competition so we can develop the car together with the team in the best way."
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber
McLaren: Jenson Button, Sergio Perez
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg
Lotus: Kimi Raikkonen
Sauber: Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez
Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne
Caterham: Charles Pic
Marussia: Timo Glock