File this one into the rumor mill, albeit in your nicest and hopefully gold-and-diamond-encrusted rumor mill.

According to Cancha magazine, Carlos Slim — the world’s richest man and big Sauber backer — expects Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez to drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg next year as Slim continues his sponsorship of the team. Given Gutierrez’s role as Sauber’s test driver this year, that doesn’t seem like a huge stretch. He got a little time behind the wheel in India, too, when Sergio Perez was ill.

The bigger impact is on Kamui Kobayashi, who may be getting a pesos squeeze if this rumor is true.

I know Kamui has been a bit of an F1B favorite due to his exciting and daring driving style. He isn’t doing terrible compared to Perez. The Mexican driver — who is headed over to McLaren, if you missed that wee little development — has 66 points and the Japanese driver has 58. Combined they have Sauber in a solid sixth place in the team standings.

Money talks in Formula 1, of course. Can you blame Sauber for bowing to its big sponsor’s wish? Is there another team that ought to pick Kobayashi up if, indeed, he is a free agent come the end of the season?

  • The Imperative Voice

    If Esteban slides into Sergio’s seat and the team can make that work financially, they could maintain TelMex funding and not have to overhaul the driver lineup drastically.

    Gutierrez is running third in GP2 with three wins and three seconds so that’s as good or better a CV than Perez, who’s been pretty competitive for Sauber. And as test driver he is within the line of succession and thus not a drastic change.

    Does make you wonder if some of the Sauber rumors were coming from McLaren, who are in sponsor flux themselves.

  • t.k.

    I’m a bit worried Sauber too much rely on one big sponsor, Mexican sponsor that is. Esteban seems a solid driver so it may not be a bad chose for Kamui’s replacement. If he could much Kamui performance? Time will tell.
    Kamui scored over 70% of that Sauber scored last 2 years. He is the third most successful Sauber driver, 1st of course Nick Heidfeld and 2nd Robert Kubica. (include BMW days so Kamui could be the 1st.)

    There is no guarantee that Esteban would stay with Sauber after 2013 season (move to other team or whatever) so Sauber needs a long term commitment from TelMex.

    Any rumore that Kamui has been spotted in Aoyama, Tokyo? H’s HQ

  • JTW

    I think Kobayashi hasn’t performed at a level that warrants keeping him, if someone else (dare I say i; with funds?) is available. True, his point total isn’t bad compared to Perez, but some of that is due to Perez’s umh, ah, fumbling since his McLaren contract. Given that Kobayashi is the more experienced, his performances this year should have been higher, and more consistent. Just sayin’.

  • RoDe

    I think it would be a shame for Kamui to have to leave. He has proven that the he is the stable force within the team, Perez has not. He has been gathering point as perez has not.

    But money speaks louder in F1 so good or not when money starts talking reasoning flies out the window.