With Kamui Kobayashi's services being dispensed with at the end of 2012, Hulkenberg assumes the mantle of senior driver at Sauber this season, with Gutierrez stepping up from a middling GP2 campaign largely as a result of his familiarity as test driver and the backing he brings from Mexico. Hulkenberg, however, does not expect any additional pressure as Sauber looks to build on a season that yielded four podium finishes and sixth spot in the constructors'' standings.
“The fact that people are regarding me as the team leader doesn't change much,” he claimed, “At Sauber, both drivers get the same equipment and treatment. I will just work harder together with Esteban to bring the team forward.
“I don't see any deficit [in having two new drivers], to be honest. Indeed, I am new in the team, but not new in F1, and Esteban has gained experience as a test driver with Sauber, so he is not new to them.
“I want to build on the good basis they had last year, and keep working hard from there. Of course, I am looking for good results - in that sense, the team and I are already looking for the same thing – but it's a new season so we have to wait and see how things pan out and how strong our package is on the track.”