Sauber will run Esteban Gutierrez in November's young driver test in Abu Dhabi
Sauber will run prospective 2013 race driver Esteban Gutierrez and Robin Frijns in the young guns test in Abu Dhabi.
Last Updated: 23/10/12 10:48am
The young Mexican, who finished third in this year's GP2 series, has been heavily linked to a promotion to the Swiss team's full race line-up in place of his McLaren-bound countryman Sergio Perez for next season, with Nico Hulkenberg appearing likely to get the other seat in place of Kamui Kobayashi.
Gutierrez has become a regular for Sauber over recent years in the young driver test sessions and has been given the nod to complete two days in the C31 in the days following the Yas Marina circuit's grand prix in two weeks' time.
The 21-year-old will complete the final two days of the test, Wednesday and Thursday, with the team to use the opening day to assess rising Dutch talent Frijns, who is the same age as Gutierrez.
Frijns is in the running to be crowned this season's Formula Renault 3.5 champion ahead of the category's season finale at Barcelona this weekend and the young driver test will mark his debut at F1 level.
Should there be no announcements confirming Sauber's full 2013 race line-up before the November 6-8 test, Gutierrez's appearance at Yas Marina is likely to be billed as his final audition for a race seat.
Two years ago Sauber took advantage of the test for inexperienced drivers to run the then incoming Perez in Abu Dhabi in their car for three days to get him acclimatised to F1 machinery and Pirelli tyres prior to the start of the following February's pre-season programme.
Sauber have remained tight-lipped over their driver plans for 2013 in recent weeks but Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz suggested in Korea on Sunday night that confirmation of both Force India's Hulkenberg and Gutierrez was actually imminent.
"We think Force India are about to lose Nico Hulkenberg to Sauber," Ted said his post-race video blog. "The open secret in the paddock this weekend is that Sauber will announce maybe as early as this week that Gutierrez, their Mexican long-time test driver and apprentice, will replace Kobayashi and that Perez's place as the senior driver will go to Hulkenberg.
"I wouldn't be a surprise if they bench Kobayashi for the rest of the season and put in Gutierrez to give him some race time. He does have a super licence so it is possible - but probably not probable."