Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg believes it would be “risky” to assume that the team’s new teenage protege Sergey Sirotkin will be ready for a Formula 1 race seat next year.
Russian teenager Sirotkin is being groomed as a potential 2014 driver as part of Sauber’s major new deal with Russian investors. Sirotkin, who turns 18 on Sunday, will begin his preparations for the seat this week, spending Tuesday and Wednesday at Sauber’s Hinwil, Switzerland factory. He will have meetings with engineers and a seat-fitting, as well as carrying out some media activities.
Asked for his feelings about the prospect of an 18-year-old racing in F1 next season, current Sauber driver Hulkenberg replied: “Me, I wasn’t ready for Formula 1 at that point. It is ambitious, maybe a bit risky, but it’s not my decision. Everyone is obviously different. Some guys can handle more pressure than others.”
Hulkenberg was 22 when he came into F1 with Williams in 2010. By that stage, he had spent five seasons in car racing and had notched up GP2, Formula 3 Euro Series and German Formula BMW titles, as well as leading Germany to an A1GP crown.
Sirotkin made his car racing debut in Formula Abarth in mid-2010, and has since graduated via Auto GP to Formula Renault 3.5. Hulkenberg is concerned that there is little Sirotkin can do to adequately prepare for F1, given the testing ban.
“He will keep on racing in Formula Renault [3.5], beyond that he could do lots of simulator running, but that isn’t real life, and Sauber does not have a simulator so that is not an option,” he said.