Gutierrez signed as Sauber reserve driver

Esteban Gutierrez, the 19-year-old inaugural GP3 champion, has been signed by Sauber as test and reserve driver for 2011. The Mexican has already worked with the team during the 2010 season as an affiliated driver.

Gutierrez, who won five GP3 races this year, had his first F1 experience behind the wheel of a BMW Sauber F1.09 in last year's young driver test days at Jerez and will drive the current car in the post Abu Dhabi test.

"Esteban is extremely mature for his age, and it has been a great pleasure to have him with us a great deal of the time this year as an affiliated driver," Peter Sauber said. "We are confident he will continue to develop strongly. With his modest manner and keen desire to learn, he has also made himself very popular among the team."

Gutierrez has had open access to the Sauber pit garage, radio and technical briefings this year. "I learnt a great deal about the professionalism and practical procedures in an F1 team," he said. "Plus, I had an opportunity to attend the team's fitness camp with the two team drivers. I'm really grateful to Peter Sauber for his confidence in me and my ability."

Sauber, of course, made good capital out of giving Kimi Raikkonen an early introduction to F1 a decade ago and took a similar approach with Felipe Massa. The team has recently re-signed Nick Heidfeld to partner Kamui Kobayashi for the rest of the season in place of Pedro de la Rosa, and it is anticipated that the team will field the same line-up in 2011.

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