Russian teen ready for Sauber
23 July 2013, 10:19
England - Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin believes he will be ready to make his Formula 1 debut with the revamped Russian-rescued Sauber team in 2014.
At a time when Russia is preparing to host the 2014 Winter Olympic games and the 2018 soccer World Cup finals, the prospect of a local driver in the first Russian Grand Prix has added to the rising sense of excitement and expectation.
BUSY YEAR AHEAD
Russia is expected to host a GP on a street circuit to be built at the Sochi Games' Olympic Park - providing the development work does not delay preparations for the Winter Games.
It was announced early in July that as part of Sauber's new partnership with a trio of Russian companies, Sirotkin will be placed on a development programme "to prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014".
Despite the fact that he is only 17-years-old, lacks experience and has been the butt of many cynics' jokes about the Russian arrival in F1, Sirotkin believes he can do it.
He said: "At the moment, maybe I am a little bit too young, but that doesn't mean I cannot be ready. I have more than half a year to learn, I am doing a good preparation programme and I can be ready. I don't think it is going to be a big problem."
'NO CHANCE FOR ME?'
Sirotkin is currently ninth in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship following the race earlier in July in Spielberg where he finished fourth in his second race.
Sirotkin said: "The chance to be a F1 driver is not something you can have every day."
"OK, maybe spending one more year in this series, I could be more ready, but after one more year maybe there is no chance for me to be a F1 driver."
While Sirotkin looks to the future with Sauber, current German incumbent Nico Hulkenberg this week played down a rising sense of optimism in the team ahead of the 2013 Hungarian GP.
Hulkenberg, reportedly not paid his wages during Sauber's recent problems, said that Sauber's apparent improvement at the German GP may have been illusory.
Hulkenberg said: "There might be a few other reasons why we looked stronger at the Nurburgring.
"We scored a point there on merit, and could have done better, but the Nurburgring was similar to Shanghai - it was a front-limited circuit. Our performance might be linked to that.
"We won't know the real answer until the next couple of races."
The team's eponymous chief Peter Sauber will at least feel some relief after admitting recently to severe cash-flow problems before the Russian intervention.
This saw Investment Corporation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies taking a major stake in the Sauber operation.
It was a big step for Sauber and for F1, but also an important move for Russia.