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Drivers take cautious view over prospect of Sirotkin

If any of the drivers in F1 were starting to feel their age, then it's no surprise that they're taking a wary view of the potential début next year of Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin at Sauber.
Even though he's just 21 years old and only halfway through his rookie season in F1, Sauber F1's Esteban Gutiérrez is already having to worry about the prospect of a potentially much younger driver as his team mate - or even replacement - in 2014.

Reports earlier this week have said that the team intend to fast track 17-year-old Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin into the Sauber's driver line-up next season as part of the deal bringing much needed capital into the Swiss team over the coming weeks, assuming that the 2011 Formula Abarth European Series champion is able to qualify for the necessary F1 superlicence in the meantime.

Sirotkin's father, Oleg, is Director General of the National Institute of Aviation Technologies, which is part of the group of Russian investors bailing Sauber out with a $305 million investment in the team.

Rumours have suggested that Nico Hulkenberg might leave the team as soon as the August break following the Hungarian Grand Prix, while Gutiérrez' own position is not exactly secure in light of the developments.

"That doesn't really make a difference to my current season so to be honest," the Mexican driver said on Thursday in Budapest. "My focus is here, it's on this season and I know very well what I have with the team, what has been my path with them over the last few years and what we're looking into in the future."

The question of whether 18 (as Sirotkin will be by the time the 2014 season gets underway) is too young for anyone to be making their F1 début was one of the hot topics under discussion in the official FIA drivers press conference ahead of the Hungarian GRand Prix this weekend.

"It's unfair to say anything," said Force India's Paul di Resta. "I don't think anybody knows too much about him because he's not been in racing cars too long.

"You can never say never, can you?" he added. "People surprise you with what they're doing. If that's a decision I'm sure there's a reason behind it."

"It's a difficult one because I don't know the driver very well," agreed Williams' Pastor Maldonado. "It's difficult to say. I think it's more up to the team and not to us."

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