Sauber has signed up recently-crowned, inaugural GP3 Series Champion Esteban Gutièrrez to be its test and reserve driver in F1 2011, with the 19-year-old set to enjoy his first official outing for the team later this year.
Gutièrrez has already worked with Sauber during 2010 as an affiliated driver, dovetailing that with an ultra-successful campaign with ART Grand Prix in the new GP3 category, in which he comfortably lifted the laurels courtesy of five victories, nine podium finishes and three pole positions from the 16 races.
In November, he will get behind the wheel of the Hinwil-based outfit's Ferrari-powered C29 for the special young driver test following the Abu Dhabi finale, having initially dipped his toe into the F1 water with a similar run in a BMW-Sauber F1.09 at Jerez in southern Spain last December.
“I learnt a great deal about the professionalism and practical procedures in an F1 team,” the Mexican revealed of his open access to the pit garage, pit radio and technical briefings thus far this season. “Plus, in early September I had an opportunity to attend the team's fitness camp with the two team drivers. F1 is my ambition, and I'm really grateful to Peter Sauber for his confidence in me and my ability.”
“Esteban is extremely mature for his age, and it has been a great pleasure to have him with us a great deal of the time this year as an affiliated driver,” added the eponymous team founder, owner and principal. “The team was rooting for him during his intelligent fighting performances in the GP3 Series. We are confident he will continue to develop strongly. With his modest manner and keen desire to learn, he has made himself very popular among the team.”