Sergey Sirotkin is set to begin an intensive Formula 1 testing program next month to prepare him for his grand prix debut in 2014.
The 18-year-old, who is currently competing in Formula Renault 3.5, will race for Sauber next year provided he secures his Super Licence and will be given mileage in a 2011 car ahead of the start of pre-season testing.
Sauber is planning to give him 10-15 days of running across multiple circuits, although team principal Monisha Kaltenborn would not confirm details of the plan as they have yet to be finalized.
“We are working on putting together the testing program for him because you are allowed to test with an older car,” said Kaltenborn. “We have more or less finalized the dates, we just have to look at certain availabilities. We are planning [the start of testing] for the end of October.”
Sauber has yet to confirm what car Sirotkin will drive, although it is most likely to be its own 2011 machine. However, Kaltenborn did leave the door open to using another team’s car if necessary.
“That’s still open but we have to see what we can implement quicker,” said Kaltenborn. “It is quite a program he will be running but I wouldn’t like to [state how many days] right now before I have confirmation.”
Sirotkin is attending his first grand prix as part of the Sauber team this weekend. He is confident that with this extra running he will be ready to become the youngest F1 driver in history at the start of next season.
“I still have half a year,” he said of whether he will be ready. “I still need to finish my World Series season and if everything goes right I will be more than ready for the first race.
“We are planning to do some tests with a 2011 car. And we are going to do a demo run at Sochi, then a fitness program, all the preparation to be ready.”
F1 regulations permit teams to test provided the car used is not of the current vintage or from the previous season, meaning it is possible to test using pre-2012 machinery.