Sauber test driver Sirotkin calls de Silvestro a “marketing move”

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Sergey Sirotkin has said that he is not concerned about fellow Sauber test driver Simona de Silvestro, calling her a “marketing move”.

Sirotkin joined Sauber midway through last season as a reserve driver with the view of claiming a full-time seat in 2014. At the time, he was just 17 years old, and due to become the youngest driver in the history of Formula 1 had he started a race.

However, the plans did not materialize. Some of the investment that came with his signing fell through, and Sauber eventually opted to retain Esteban Gutierrez and sign Adrian Sutil from Force India.

For 2015, there is a five-way fight for two seats at Sauber. As well as Sirotkin, Gutierrez and Sutil, former IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro has been signed with plans to give her a full-time drive in 2015. So far, she has taken part in two tests for the team, with the most recent being yesterday in Spain.

The fifth driver in the running is Giedo van der Garde. The Dutch driver spent a season at Caterham in 2013 before joining Sauber for this season, and also has sights on a full-time seat at the Swiss team in 2015.

For Sirotkin, van der Garde is his biggest rival for a seat, dubbing de Silvestro a “marketing move”.

“At Sauber there is a third driver, Giedo van der Garde, a test driver, myself, and a sponsored driver, the person they are helping to reach the level of Formula 1,” Sirotkin explained to Russian website F1News.ru.

“But I think that is a marketing move, so I do not take it as something to be afraid of. Let’s see what happens.”

Sirotkin also went on to reveal that he is due to take part in practice for the Russian Grand Prix in October.

“I was actually supposed to participate in free practice not only in Sochi, but it is an open question,” he said. “Obviously, in terms of marketing, public interest and so on, the logical thing is to do it in Sochi, but we cannot yet say whether this will happen in Sochi or the next track.

“At the moment, my priority is World Series by Renault, so I do not plan to give preference to other cases in F1 if they can complicate my task or hinder my performance in this championship. It may give the impression that there was a lull but, in fact, it is not.”

Sirotkin’s performances in World Series by Renault over the past three years have been largely underwhelming, and he is probably the least suitable driver of the five in the running for the seat at Sauber. The irony of his comments is that without his backing, it is unlikely that he would be close to a Formula 1 seat.

For the time being though, the fight for the seats at Sauber remains open. With no points to show of so far in 2014, the team will be hoping that Sutil and Gutierrez can secure a top ten finish at some point soon to kick-start its campaign.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III