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GP Week : Issue 177a
F1 >>> NEWS w BRIEFLY » For the third year running, the unpopular Korean Grand Prix has lost money, with 2012’s losses totalling £23 million. But while the loss is unfortunate, the brains behind the race are taking a long-term view of the matter. “It's hard to say what kind of impact the loss has on next year,” Reuters quoted the Yeongam race organisers as saying. “Although there are many concerns regarding the operating loss, the loss for a third straight year is only a short-term effect. In the long- term the F1 event will bring more benefits to the country. It will not only pave the way for South Korean car industries in the future but also help foster new industries.” » According to Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Sebastian Vettel is slightly lacking in the charisma department. “[Vettel] lacks a little charisma,” Ecclestone told German tabloid Bild in an interview published last week. “Guys like Hunt, Rindt, Lauda, Senna were real characters, but they can't be like that anymore because they are protected by the team bosses far too much. Now the FIA gives them a muzzle. They're not even allowed to show their emotions.” Given the number of cosy dinners Ecclestone has shared with Vettel this season, and their legendary games of backgammon, the presumption is that Vettel’s public lack of charisma is not an issue in the private sphere. SAUBER CONFIRM GUTIERREZ FOR 2013 One of the worst-kept secrets in the paddock was confirmed on Friday, when Sauber announced that they had promoted reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez to a race seat, where he will partner Nico Hulkenberg. “Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely,” team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said when the announcement was made. “In 2010 we signed him up as an affiliated driver, and in 2011 and 2012 he was our test and reser ve driver. We mapped out his path to Formula One step by step. Esteban has great talent and now he’s ready to take the leap. We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season with Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.” “After three years working with Sauber I feel very grateful for all the attention I have received from everyone in the team and for all their input, which has allowed me to develop into a Formula One driver in a very progressive way,” Gutierrez said. “Now, after experiencing other categories of racing as an introduction to Formula One, this is the start of the real challenge to succeed at the pinnacle of motor sport. “The support from my family, as well as from my sponsors, has been a key factor in getting there and I am very grateful to everyone who has been involved in our project. It will be a great pleasure to be racing in the same team as an experienced driver like Nico Hülkenberg. He will be a good reference point for me and will push me to adapt quickly to F1 competition so we can develop the car together with the team in the best way.” Gutierrez comes to Sauber with two seasons inn GP2 under his belt, and was the 2010 GP3 series champion. While the Mexican racer has proved his talent behind the wheel, Sauber admit that for a team in their position, aptitude must also be backed by sponsorship. “Generally, to take a decision on a driver is a strategic decision,” Kaltenborn told BBC Sport. “You have to look at the whole picture which for us definitely includes the quality of the driver; we did the same with Sergio for example. We had many options at that time as well and we went for Sergio because we were first of all convinced he was a very talented driver. “And then of course if you are a private team with the surroundings you are working in, the more money you have, the more money you can put in development and hopefully it ends up in the right performance. You have to look at many aspects and we are open about that.” Gutierrez’ promotion from reser ve driver to race driver was good news for Dutchman Robin Frijns, who has been named as Sauber’s new reserve driver. The 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 World Champion, Frijns took part in the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test earlier this month, and impressed Sauber with his capabilities behind the wheel. “Monitoring Robin’s racing career“ , said Kaltenborn, “makes it easy to spot his potential. This was the reason we gave him the chance to drive the Sauber C31-Ferrari at the Young Driver Days in Abu Dhabi. He managed this very well. We will now carefully guide him to Formula One. This is a long way, but Robin has got the skills to do that successfully.” 7 GPWEEK.com // 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: