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Sauber, Force India decided on second drivers?

8 November 2012

Both Sauber and Sahara Force India could be poised to reveal the identity of their second drivers for 2013.

According to reports in publications on either side of the Atlantic, the duelling midfielders appear to have decided who will partner Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta respectively, having seen half of their 2012 line-ups opt for pastures new next season.

Hulkenberg, who leaves Force India to spearhead Sauber's assault next year, looks set to be paired with current reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez, despite doubts over the Mexican's potential cast by a scrappy year in the GP2 Series. Gutierrez's candidature has never been in doubt from the moment Sergio Perez was snapped up by McLaren to replace Lewis Hamilton, but the youngster was understood to face opposition from the likes of Heikki Kovalainen and Jaime Alguersuari, as well as Kamui Kobayashi, who is reportedly looking for the backing to hold on to his seat at Hinwil, and new World Series by Renault champion Robin Frijns, who joins Gutierrez at this week's young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

The claims that Sauber is ready to announce Gutierrez come from the world's richest man, Carlos Slim Domit, who presides of the team's main sponsor, Telmex. Like Perez, Gutierrez has been backed by the telecoms giant throughout his rise up the single-seater ladder, and Slim believes that his graduation to an F1 race seat is assured.

"The team has a decision to make, but we are intending to speak to the them next week, and I have no doubt that we will have two Mexican drivers in F1 next year," he was quoted by Mexico's Cancha magazine in the wake of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Strangely, the assertion that Force India is also ready to confirm its future line-up comes from Switzerland's Blick magazine, where veteran journalist Roger Benoit believes that it has come to a decision after considering as many as five potential partners for di Resta.

While the Scot stays put for a third season, despite being linked to possible vacancies at both Ferrari and McLaren, the list of contenders to fill Hulkenberg's seat include current reserve Jules Bianchi, former team-mate Adrian Sutil, Williams' Bruno Senna – who is rumoured to already know his fate at Grove following claims that Valtteri Bottas has been inked in alongside Pastor Maldonado – as well as Toro Rosso refugees Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.


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