Boy racer: 17-year-old set to become F1's youngest driver (Update) UPDATE
(GMM) Sauber's next driver is closely linked to the group of Russian sponsors who on Monday were hailed as the saviors of the embattled Swiss team.
Amid reports financial worries could soon silence Sauber's engines, the Hinwil based team announced a timely deal with a group of Russian entities closely aligned with president Vladimir Putin.
A media statement said Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin, who is just 17, would as part of the deal be prepared "as a racing driver for the team in 2014".
It is already being reported that Sirotkin, currently racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, will appear in the grey Sauber in practice sessions later in 2013.
An almost completely unknown name within the F1 paddock, teenager Sirotkin therefore stands to break all the records for the youngest ever grand prix driver.
"We will do everything possible to prepare him for his entry into formula one, so that he will be our driver next year," team boss Monisha Kaltenborn told Germany's motorsport-total.com.
The British Telegraph newspaper reports that Sirotkin is the son of Oleg Sirotkin, the chief of one of Sauber's new backers, the National Institute of Aviation Technologies.
Sauber said the Hinwil based team, which according to Kaltenborn has not been sold, "will benefit from the advanced know-how of the front-end Russian scientists and engineers" of the entity headed by Sirotkin's father.
Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary said Sirotkin will not appear later this week at the young driver test at Silverstone, "but the intention is to have him in a race seat in time for next year's inaugural Russian grand prix in Sochi".07/15/13 Sauber today announced the signing of Sergey Sirotkin and say they hope to have the teenager racing for them as early as next season.
Sirotkin will be 18 come the first race of next season, but if the Swiss team’s plan to fast-track their new signing into grand-prix action works out he would become the youngest F1 driver in history, surpassing Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, who raced for Toro Rosso as a 19-year-old in 2009.
The youngster’s arrival has secured investment from Russian companies for the financially-stricken Sauber.
Russia is scheduled to host its first grand prix in Sochi in 2014, and a Sauber statement read: ‘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 program will be set up for the Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin to prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014.’
Sirotkin currently races in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, a competition in which he lies eighth in the driver standings
Of Sauber’s current driving line-up, German Nico Hulkenberg had already been expected to move on next season, however, Mexican Esteban Gutierrez’s future is less clear.