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Gutierrez confirmed - by Perez

23 November 2012

Sergio Perez isn't known for false starts, but appears to have jumped the gun somewhat by suggesting that fellow Mexican Esteban Gutierrez will be partnering Nico Hulkenberg at Sauber next season.

While the GP2 racewinner is widely expected to be named as replacement for Kamui Kobayashi in 2013, the Sauber team has yet to formally decide on its line-up, although an announcement is expected at some point during this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Perez, however, proved a little more forthcoming when meeting with Spanish-language reporters in the paddock on the eve of practice for the final round.

"The car will be strong because the rules don't change much, and the team have a good experienced driver in Nico and he will have a strong team mate in Esteban," Reuters quotes the Mexican, who heads to McLaren next season, as revealing.

Realising that he may have said too much, Perez tried to back-track by admitting that the announcement had yet to be made by Sauber, but his slip of the tongue merely confirms suspicions that Telmex will insist on another Mexican in the line-up. Carlos Slim, the billionaire who oversees the telecoms company's backing of rising Mexican talent through the Escuderia Telmex, was present at last weekend's US Grand Prix in Austin.

Should Gutierrez be confirmed, it could mean that this weekend's season finale is Kobayashi's final F1 outing, with few options apparently on the table for the likeable Japanese driver, who claimed his maiden podium on home soil last month. Kobayashi would not be alone in facing the exit door, with the likes of Vitaly Petrov, Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa all also expected to left on the sidelines as new, and better-funded, blood is introduced for 2013.


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