The expected switch of Mexicans at Sauber ahead of Friday's free practice sessions was duly confirmed as Esteban Gutierrez suited up for his first outing on a grand prix weekend at the Buddh International Circuit.
The GP2 Series racewinner is expected to be confirmed as a full member of the Swiss team next season, and an unwell Sergio Perez presented the perfect opportunity to give him valuable race weekend mileage, although the statement from Sauber suggested that it may only be a temporary replacement for the first of the day's two 90-minute sessions.
"Due to the fact that race driver Sergio Perez is unwell, the Sauber F1 team has decided to let its reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez jump into the car for the first free practice session ahead of the Indian Grand Prix on Friday," the brief missive confirmed, "This should help Sergio's speedy recovery so he is able to drive for the remainder of the weekend."
Television pictures showing Perez on the pit-wall did not indicate that the 22-year old was suffering too badly from the cold he apparently brought to India, but it would be unusual for him to recover enough to drive in the afternoon session simply by sitting out the morning. Caterham and Williams are both running reserve drivers in the first 90 minutes of the weekend, but there is no pretence about the appearance of Giedo van der Garde and Valtteri Bottas, who replace Heikki Kovalainen and Bruno Senna respectively.
Gutierrez is widely expected to be named as the McLaren-bound Perez's replacement for 2013, with Nico Hulkenberg rumoured to be his team-mate, moving over from Force India - possibly with the assistance of engine supplier Ferrari - to take the seat currently filled by Kamui Kobayashi.