Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin will act as the official test driver for the Sauber F1 team next season.
The 17-year-old joined the Swiss-based outfit back in the summer after a group of Russian investors came on board and bailed the team out of financial strife. Initially it was thought he would get a race seat for 2014, however, without the necessary experience to qualify for a superlicence, he will instead now act as the main tester.
Sirotkin will combine his test duties by continuing to race in the World Series by Renault, where he will be looking to build on the two podiums he claimed this season.
“It's a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 Team. I will work hard to improve myself and to extract the maximum out of this opportunity,” said Sirotkin, who got his first run in an F1 car back in September - albeit only a short demo outing
- and who has since tested a 2009 Ferrari at Fiorano.
“F1 is very complex, so it is important to get an opportunity like this. My main focus next year, however, will be the World Series by Renault, which is very competitive.
“This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step.”
Sauber team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn meanwhile emphasised that the team's intention is to further prepare him for his debut at the top level.
“We have been working with Sergey since August, and he has been able to gain more and more insight into F1,” she explained. “Now he is taking the next step towards the top level of motorsport in his new role as a test driver. Our experience of him is as a very focused, calm and talented driver.
"Now we will continue to support him, including obtaining his super license. Our goal remains to prepare him for a debut in F1.”