The BMW Sauber F1 Team is taking 18-year-old Esteban Gutierrez, who will line up for the ART Grand Prix Team in the new GP3 race series this season, under its wing.
The Mexican driver will attend a number of the Grands Prix in 2010, observe the goings-on in the pits, listen in to the radio communications and be present at meetings. Added to which, he will be incorporated into the team's driver development programme. This means that he will follow the same training regime as race drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi, and his physical condition will be monitored and evaluated in the same way.
"We view this link-up as a kind of sponsorship arrangement," explained team boss Peter Sauber. "Nowadays you can only give young drivers a very limited amount of help in gaining a foothold in Formula One. With the limited number of testing opportunities, it is important for the teams to have the race drivers in the cars during those sessions. However, the world of Formula One is so complex that you can learn a great deal just by watching and listening to what's going on. That's the opportunity we're giving Esteban. And we will also help him to get himself in F1-trim physically."
Gutierrez also shared his thoughts: "I felt very comfortable at the young driver test at Jerez in December and enjoyed every second, but I also saw that I still have a lot to learn before I'm ready to be a good Formula One driver. Experience behind the wheel is, of course, the most important thing, but I'm under no illusions. I'm happy that the BMW Sauber F1 Team has shown so much confidence in me by giving me the chance to look behind the scenes and learn about the sport. And at the same time, I will be training hard with an instructor, which will definitely help me achieve my goals in the GP3 series."
Seven of the eight GP3 races in 2010 will take place as part of the Grand Prix support programme.