Sirotkin to test for Sauber in Bahrain

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber, Sochi, 2013Sergey Sirotkin will take part in the Bahrain test for Sauber following this week’s grand prix.

Teams will conduct the first of four in-season tests at the circuit on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

The team said Sirotkin will drive the C33 on Tuesday in order to complete enough mileage to be granted a superlicence. He previously did a demonstration run for the team in Sochi, where the inaugural Russian Grand Prix will be held later this year.

Test driver Giedo van der Garde will do the other day of testing and will also drive during first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday.

Head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara admitted the team still have progress to make with their new car:

“We went testing in Bahrain twice before the start of the season and were not happy with the performance of the car, which had a lot to do with a lack of straightline speed and some issues under braking.

“Since then we have improved the car in different areas, particularly under braking. In addition, the performance in medium and high speed corners is quite good as well.

“However, we still have room for improvement in low speed corners, and the straightline speed is still an issue.”

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19 comments on Sirotkin to test for Sauber in Bahrain

  1. Brian C (@bcracing) said on 31st March 2014, 12:17

    I was hoping they would give Simona a chance in the car.

  2. I’ll probably get slated for this, but I’d love to see Giedo go out and beat Adrian or Esteban in FP1, in my opinion he’s more deserving of a seat than either of them.

    • George (@george) said on 31st March 2014, 18:25

      He had some decent speed last year but he also had a few brain fade moments. Then again, Sutil and Gutierrez have had their own share of those.

      • joetoml1n (@joetoml1n) said on 31st March 2014, 21:45

        I think on his day Giedo is probably the fastest of the three.. But if I was the team principle though, I would definitely have to take Sutil over either of them. I’d consider him to the the safest bet, and the one who I’d put my faith in to bring home steady and more importantly consistent results.

  3. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 31st March 2014, 18:39

    Can they run two cars in these new in-season tests? They might as well, since they’re there already.

    Seems odd to deny a race driver track time on Friday when there’s a test day a few days later, but no doubt they have a plan, and they need to try something – at the moment you notice Sauber more during a Chelsea match than a Grand Prix!

  4. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 31st March 2014, 18:46

    Why? Putting him in the car is no longer a proviso on the Russian deal, so why not let him slip into anonymity? Frankly, I was happy having not heard his name these past months: the ugly word that is nepotism should never be used with regards to a grid that should field the 22 finest racing drivers in the world.

    • Andrew F said on 1st April 2014, 3:58

      I’m assuming you don’t follow FR3.5 or any junior series. Sirotkin’s been a consistent front runner in testing, and is still only 18 going into his 2nd year. He was also quite impressive last year as a rookie with little single-seater experience. His results don’t show the level of talent he displayed at times due to mechanical gremlins and incidents not of his own making.

      It would be an incredibly short-sighted decision to label him a pay-driver and a benefit of nepotism simply because he has backing from his country (sure, acquired by his father’s connections) and because you hadn’t heard of him before he was associated with an F1 team. He’s actually shaping up to be one of the top young driver prospects at the FR3.5/GP2 level, along with Marciello/Vandoorne. This is of course my opinion, but many who actually follow junior series have this same view.

      • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 1st April 2014, 9:59

        Please don’t mistake me for an individual unable to recognize the fake veneer of expertise, and as an avid of FR3.5, but also of the Formula Abarth series in which Sirotkin took the title, and am perfectly aware that he is a decent racing driver. But in being a fan of FR3.5, I have also not failed to recognize the sheer volume of brilliant racing drivers far superior to Sirotkin who have failed to make the F1 cut. Is Antonio Felix Da Costa not both more talented and deserving of a place in F1? Sam Bird? Marco Sorenson? Robert Wickens? Kevin Korjus? Alexander Sims? Tio Ellinas? James Calado? Fabio Leimer? Davide Valsecchi? And above all, Robin Frijns? When all of this superb talent is not likely to find itself anywhere near F1 in coming years, why does Sirotkin? Oh yes, nepotism. OK, he probably is a better racing driver than Chilton, but in a solid midfield team like Sauber, why should a seat potentially crucial in finding the next Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton be filled simply to appease a Russian executive? Above all, Sirotkin has potential, but if he is parachuted into F1 later this year or next year, his career will simply be quickly characterized by the inevitable errors that generally map out the season of a driver thrown in at the deep end, and in the highly judgmental world of F1 that would be a shame.

        • Andrew F said on 1st April 2014, 11:00

          I apologize for assuming you had no knowledge of junior series. I shouldn’t have made that leap in judgement. I see you are well-informed about the subject.

          However, I wouldn’t quite say all those drivers are superior to Sirotkin. Certainly not Valsecchi, Leimer, Sims. Korjus, Sorensen, Ellinas are debatable. Bird and Calado hit the age ceiling (which I don’t agree with, btw, but is an unfortunate reality for driver prospects). Antonio Felix da Costa and Robin Frjins are the only two worthy of F1 chances before Sirotkin. However, the most deserving don’t always get the chances. I don’t like it anymore than you do, but it’s how it is right now. If there were systems in place to promote title winners into F1 teams, that’d be great. But it’s not how it works.

          As for them not finding themselves anywhere near F1….that’s not true. Robert Wickens was part of the Red Bull Junior Team, and did an FP1 (and tested for) for Virgin and tested for Lotus Renault. Sam Bird was a test driver with Mercedes. James Calado was 3rd driver for Force India. Marco Sorensen is a reserve for Lotus (but that doesn’t mean anything). Valsecchi was reserve driver for Lotus (that didn’t mean anything). Tio Ellinas is a Marussia protege. Antonio Felix da Costa is reserve driver for Red Bull Racing. Frijns is Caterham’s reserve driver.

          Race seats have always gone to the drivers with the best combination of talent, money, and connections. Most of the drivers you mentioned were lacking in one of those three departments (with age being a key component of talent projection), with the exception of Felix da Costa and Frijns, who I think should be getting their chances sometimes in the future (a few years too late by my judgement).

          Sirotkin happens to have a very good combination of all three components. One, he’s quite a talented driver. Two, he brings a good amount of money with him from Russia (from SMP Bank, especially). Three, he’s got connections with the Russian government through his father, and with the Russian GP coming up, makes him a good bet for a race seat. So you see, there’s a lot more that goes into a driver appointment than just pure talent. Sure, I’d love the F1 grid to be filled with only the 24 most talented drivers. But that will never be the case as long as F1 is an expensive, global, commercial motorsport. There’s too much other stuff going on.

          We seem to disagree on Sirotkin’s talent level and prospects for F1. Yes, he lacks experience, but he’s lauded for maturity that belies his age and his capacity for feedback. He’s shown remarkable adaptability when taking large jumps up the ladder, which is rare to find. What’s to say he’s not the next Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton? After all, Vettel didn’t stand out incredibly in his junior years. Certainly not like a 4 time world champion. Lewis always had the talent. But he’s only had 1 championship because although he had all the speed in the world, he had a lot of refining to do when it came to everything else.

          All I’m saying is, I think you cannot rule out Sirotkin’s potential this early in his career. You cannot assume he will struggle like a driver entering too early (ie Jaime Alguersuari), even if he enters F1 next year. I doubt he’ll be thrown into a race seat later this year. He’s got his FR3.5 season to focus on, especially now that he’s a title contender. Mid-season tests and FP1′s are the most he’ll probably do.

          • Andrew F said on 1st April 2014, 11:03

            22 most talented drivers. Damn it.

          • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 1st April 2014, 15:59

            Thank you Andrew, for reversing that “leap of judgement” about my knowledge of the single seater racing I have been watching, and sporadically reporting on, since 1986.

            The crux of my argument is twofold. Firstly, as per the current status quo, in my opinion, Sirotkin is not of the caliber needed for the Formula 1 grid, and his promotion would be to the detriment of other more talented young drivers. Secondly though, that is by no means a basis to suggest that with further experience of a major single seater series like FR3.5 or GP2, he couldn’t reach the necessary level of ability; he is young enough, and yet, a premature promotion and the errors that results would harshly marr his name. My argument is this: let’s see if he can win the FR3.5 title in 2015 (with Sainz, Gasly and Rowland he will struggle in 2014) and let’s see him in F1 in 2016.

            Regarding the drivers I mentioned previously, whilst all of them have invariably made test/reserve appearances, none of them, with the possible exception of Da Costa before Toro Rosso made the knee-jerk decision to promote Kvyat, have had a realistic chance of a Formula 1 race seat. Whilst I agree that Bird hit the age ceiling, and that it is difficult to determine whether Leimer and Korjus would be superior to Sirotkin, the excellent showings from Calado and Ellinas in junior categories but also the strong F1 testing pace shown by Frijns but particularly by Valsecchi (surprisingly, owing to the fact that he was passed over for Kovalainen when Lotus actually needed a reserve) confirmed the F1 potential of all. You judge Alexander Sims too harshly, who was never able to get the funding in place for a prolonged single seater campaign, and so is another name, like that of British Formula Ford ace Dan Camish, that failed to impact the world of top level motorsport due to a lack of finance, with Calado being comparable too, who I still believe was easily good enough for F1, but instead was masked behind an uncompetitive 2013 ART (much like Da Costa with Arden last year, whilst the late season form of Arden in GP3 skewed Daniil’s ability relative to Antonio). For me, there is no question that each driver I mentioned is more deserving than Sirotkin of an F1 seat (with talent being the only way to characterize a driver as deserving).

            However, as you rightly point out, there are three components to successfully obtaining a race seat, with talent unfortunately being overtaken by money in terms of priorities, and with the significance of junior connections through driver programmes being increasingly pivotal (as proved by the fact that Red Bull selected Ricciardo to replace Webber due to its commitment to its junior programme, in spite of the fact that Raikkonen and Hulkenberg were better options). And yet, you fail to question these multifactorial decisions are good for F1. Yes, F1 is global and highly commercial sport, but surely then there is enough money in the pot to let a young-gun get a seat without bringing millions in backing from a petrochemical company or a South American bank? And in the past the F3000 or British F3 champion would find himself in a race seat almost by default, so why not now? The point I’m making is a rather socialist one, with CVC and the FIA unfairly distributing revenue of F1 (which tends to exceed a billion euros) in the past decade, with that really being the root of the pay driver crisis we currently have in F1.

            Whilst Sirotkin neatly combines future potential, youth and wonga, his promotion is best testified against within the context that it might produce. If Sergey was hypothetically promoted next year it would be in place of Sutil, with Gutierrez’s Telmex cash essential to keep Sauber ticking over, thus denying Bianchi a chance to move up the grid, and in turn denying another driver a chance at Marussia. Once he has turned into the excellent driver he has the potential to be I would gladly see him on the grid, but until then his promotion would be both detrimental to his career but also sheer nepotism.

  5. PeterG said on 31st March 2014, 20:52

    I’m glad that he’ll be getting some seat time as despite the whining about his age & Russian backing helping him get the seat etc… The kid definitely does have talent.

    I watched him in the WSBR last year & there’s a he had some impressive performances & showed a good level of speed. He also made the sort of mistakes you would expect from somebody with as little experience as he has.

    To all those who write him off just because he has backing which helped get him this test drive… Give the kid a chance, Actually watch some of his races & look at his performances in the car & don’t just immediately heap criticism on him & think hes not that good just because he has some funding behind him.

  6. Ludwig (@ludwigmic) said on 1st April 2014, 7:29

    On a similar note: Belgian newspaper “Het Nieuwsblad” cites sources “close to Stoffel Vandoorne” that he will be testing for McLaren on wednesday, probably to drive 300 km to get his superlicense. Last week, he also drove Lauda’s McLaren MP4-2 at Goodwood. See link below (article in Dutch):

    http://www.nieuwsblad.be/sportwereld/cnt/dmf20140330_01047502

  7. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 1st April 2014, 10:59

    The team said Sirotkin will drive the C33 on Tuesday in order to complete enough mileage to be granted a superlicence.

    I hope they remember to put the green bulb in the rear light – there’s probably a ridiculous penalty if they don’t.

  8. karter22 (@karter22) said on 1st April 2014, 12:12

    I guess Monisha is now having doubts about her 2 drivers.

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