Today Sauber F1 announced that the team has entered into a partnership with “the Investment Cooperation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies” in Russia. Looking to solve apparently serious money woes that rumor indicated had separated Nico Hulkenberg from his paycheck this season, the Swiss team has gone the route of Edward Snowden and looked for help from Russia.
The injection of cash and apparently design help seems to have started immediately, with their new Russian partners adding young Sergey Sirotkin to the driver line-up for 2014. According to the announcement on Sauber’s team website,
“The partnership includes further activities for the promotion of the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014 and attracting the talented young Russian generation towards motorsport. In particular, a development programme will be set up for the Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin to prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014.”
In addition, Sauber has filled the gap left by former chief designer Matt Morris with National Institute of Aviation Technologies, “one of the leading scientific research institutions in Russia.” Today’s announcement added, “Sauber F1 team will benefit from the advanced know-how of the front-end Russian scientists and engineers,” and concluded tellingly,
“This extensive co-operation will showcase Russian innovation at the pinnacle of motorsport. At the same time, the Sauber F1 Team will have a solid foundation to increase its competitiveness on a long-term basis.”
Sirotkin currently races Formula Renault 3.5, and is, according to Autosport, the son of the head of the Russian National Institute of Aviation Technologies, Oleg Sirotkin. Further information reveals that he might well participate in some Friday practice sessions this season, but will not be in the driver’s seat for the Young Driver’s Test this week at Silverstone.
Out of eight races completed so far this season, the seventeen year old Russian has qualified in the top six five times and currently sits eighth in the championship standings, racing alongside a Swiss teammate for Czech team ISR. He is one of eight Russian drivers currently competing in the seventeen race 2013 season, and can be found on Twitter, though his current number of 619 followers is likely to increase dramatically very soon.
With this injection of Russian cash and design brainpower, Sauber seems to be ready to replace one of its two drivers for next season. Hulkenberg would likely be most easily welcomed at another team, but young Sirotkin would greatly benefit from the German’s steadying presence as he is hurried along the road to F1. In addition, Sauber may no longer need Carlos Slim’s money via Esteban Gutierrez’s with this stabilizing monetary influence. The silly season continues on its merry way.