JULY 15, 2013
Russian saviour thinks teen son ready for Sauber
Sergey Sirotkin's father has played down suggestions the teenager is too young to make his formula one debut later this year.
It is reported that, off the back of the ailing Swiss team's rescue deal in the form of partnerships with Russian entities, 17-year-old Sirotkin will make practice appearances in 2013, ahead of his full race debut next season.
Sirotkin's father, Oleg, is at the helm of one of Sauber's new saviour partners.
"There will be a number of preliminary tests," he told the Russian website f1news.ru on Monday, "and if these tests prove to be competitive, then we will talk about (Sergey Sirotkin) joining the team.
"If he needs additional development, so there will be an additional preparatory period," added Oleg Sirotkin.
"But we believe that Sergey, although young, has already gone quite a long way.
"He performed in Formula Abarth, in F3, in Augo GP, and this whole year he is in the Renault World Series. So he went through all the steps.
"We all know that Kimi Raikkonen went to formula one straight from the Renault 2.0, and everything was fine.
"If a guy has flair and talent, it is not necessary to sit for 10 years in each category," Sirotkin snr insisted.
A major hurdle will be obtaining a mandatory FIA super license, which is necessary even for Sirotkin to conduct practice sessions for Sauber.
His manager Nikolay Vetrov said: "The aim must be to make Sergey race-ready for 2014.
"I'm not talking about mental or physical condition, but of the necessary test kilometres."
Should the Russian deal ultimately save sinking Sauber, it will be hailed within the paddock. But, as ever in F1, there is always scepticism.
Some, including well-placed Russian sources, wonder if the companies are actually flush with money. Others question the link between them and next year's inaugural Russian grand prix.
2014 race host Sochi, for instance, lies in the south, while Sauber's deal is with the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation.
Team spokesman Hanspeter Brack eased the fears: "Sauber is financially out of the woods.
"The racing operation is also secured through this season.
"(Team boss Monisha) Mrs Kaltenborn informed the staff this morning, which came as a surprise even to them. There was spontaneous applause," Brack is quoted by Speed Week.