Adrian Sutil has been confirmed as Sauber’s first driver for the 2014 Formula One season. The move marks Sutil’s first switch of teams after six prior seasons (2007-’11, 2013) with the Spyker/Force India operation.
“I am determined to do my part in order to have a successful future together with the Sauber F1 Team,” he said in the team’s release. “The long and successful tradition in motorsport, combined with an impressive factory and one of the best wind tunnels in F1, have been fascinating me for a long time.”
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added that Sutil has been on the team’s radar for a while, when it became apparent Nico Hulkenberg’s chances of returning would diminish.
“Adrian had already visited the factory at the end of September to have a look at the infrastructure,” she explained. “Adrian is not only very fast, but also brings a lot of experience, which is very important looking at the new regulations for next year.”
Sutil has never finished on an F1 podium and has four career top-five finishes, with his best result in 109 starts fourth coming in the 2009 Italian Grand Prix. Still over his last three years at Force India paired with Vitantonio Liuzzi and Paul di Resta, Sutil has emerged as a consistent points scorer, which is something of value to the midfield.
As a lead driver, Sutil is likely to be paired with a younger driver who can bring a budget. Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin remains the leading candidate alongside, although the team could still opt to bring back Esteban Gutierrez for a second year for consistency’s sake.
Di Resta, Sutil’s Force India teammate, has admitted talks with Sauber but with him unlikely to provide any financial support, is a less likely candidate at this stage.
Either way, the second driver announcement will follow at a later time.