Following Sergio Perez’s conformation as a Force India driver yesterday, it seemed only a matter of time before Adrian Sutil would be announced as a Sauber driver. Today was the day, with the German making a straight swap of seat’s with fellow countryman Nico Hulkenberg. Sutil’s return to the sport at the start of last season sparked debate as to whether he deserved a second chance due to his sketchy history and after being significantly outscored by teammate Paul Di Resta this season, the question over his credentials remains.
After Di Resta managed to outscore Sutil by 48 points to 29, it has to be asked if the right man has been forced out of the sport. Evidently, the money which Sutil brings has proved to be crucial criteria in Sauber’s choice to sign the German – his sponsors are far less lucrative than the likes of PDVSA in the case of Maldonado or Telmex in the case of Gutierrez, but the additional funds will be of benefit to the team who have openly struggled with finances.
It has been well documented that Sauber had expressed an interest in signing Adrian, as their discussions have dated back some time.”We have been wanting to work together with him for a while,” said team boss Monisha Kaltenborn. “Adrian had already visited the factory at the end of September to have a look at the infrastructure. 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.”
The move is undoubtedly a sidestep for Sutil and is definitely a gamble, as Nico Hulkenberg discovered last season. However, it is crucial to note that the likelihood of Sutil being retained by Force India was very low – It was perhaps even more of an unlikelihood when a certain Sergio Perez came onto the market. Staying at Force India was never really a viable option, meaning that obtaining the Sauber seat is a fantastic result for Sutil.
“I am very happy that we found common ground. Although I have known for a while where I wanted to go, in the end the negotiations took a bit longer than planned. However, now I will have all the more reason to celebrate during the Christmas season. I’ve been in contact with Monisha for a while and she always gave me the feeling my qualities are valued,” said Sutil. “After six good years driving for Force India, with a lot of highlights, it’s now time to embark on a new challenge. I am determined to do my part in order to have a successful future together with the Sauber F1 Team. 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. Thank you to Peter Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn for your trust in me.”
So, only four unconfirmed seats remain; One at Sauber, one at Marussia and both Caterham placings. In regards to Sutil’s teammate for 2014, it is likely to be Esteban Gutierrez who will be retained by the team. While earlier in the year it seemed that Sergey Sirotkin was guaranteed a 2014 seat at Sauber as a result of the Russian investors, however, it seems as though the 17-year-old has failed to obtain a super-licence and rumours of his controversial arrival in the sport have been quelled. Sauber will probably confirm Sutil’s partner in the coming days.