Esteban Gutierrez may be facing up to the reality that he will not have a full-time seat at Sauber next season.

The Mexican, who benefited from Telmex backing when he slipped into the seat vacated by countryman Sergio Perez this season, has been spotted visiting Caterham headquarters, presumably with a view to keeping himself on the grid in 2014.

Gutierrez emerged as the best-placed rookie from the crop of five entering the top flight in 2013, finally breaking into the points in Japan after an increasingly strong end to the season. Although misfortune prevented him from adding to the six-point haul he took at Suzuka, he ended the year two points clear of Valtteri Bottas, and showed enough potential to suggest he deserved a second season - something that would not necessarily have been said in the first half of the year.

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With his place at Sauber far from certain, however, the youngster may be forced to take a step down the order to keep a foot on the grid. Force India's Adrian Sutil has been linked with a switch to Hinwil, while Perez has yet to announce where he will race in 2014 and could wind up back at the team that brought him into F1. Meanwhile, WSbR midfielder Sergey Sirotkin waits in the wings, with Russian backing that may insist the youngster is given a place in the cash-strapped squad.

Swiss newspapers Blick and Neue Zercher Zeitung both reported Gutierrez sightings at Caterham, and the link remains plausible as Tony Fernandes' operation has yet to reveal its line-up for next year.

Charles Pic was thought to have signed a multi-year contract when he moved over from Marussia last winter, but admitted earlier this week that his future at Leafield was still uncertain. Team-mate Giedo van der Garde brings useful sponsorship from fashion house McGregor, but has been linked to other teams, even if Caterham remains his most likely option for 2014.

Gutierrez has always maintained that remaining at Sauber was his preferred choice for next year, but admitted last month that, without a signed contract, he remained uncertain where he would be racing.