Sauber has completed its roster for the 2014 Formula One World Championship, as Russian racer Sergey Sirotkin has been announced as the team’s test driver alongside race drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez.
Sirotkin, who finished ninth in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship with podium finishes at Aragon, Spain and the Hungaroring, became a development driver for Sauber this summer as part of an initiative by Russian investors to help ease the Swiss team’s financial problems.
The original plan was to install Sirotkin in a Sauber race seat, but instead, the 18-year-old will look to gain more experience through his testing role and another season of FR3.5.
“It’s a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 Team,” Sirotkin said in a statement. “I will work hard to improve myself and to extract the maximum out of this opportunity. Formula One 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 [Formula Renault 3.5], which is very competitive. This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step.”
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said that Sirotkin would have the team’s full backing as he progresses toward F1.
“We have been working with Sergey since August, and he has been able to gain more and more insight into Formula One,” she said. “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 [FIA] super license. Our goal remains to prepare him for a debut in Formula One.”
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.