Adrian Sutil has made it clear that Sauber has not addressed the issue of his 2015 contract before announcing that Felipe Nasr will join Marcus Ericsson as a race driver next year.
Basically the Swiss team has taken the two drivers on the market with the biggest budgets. Adrian Sutil had a firm two-year deal and presumably will have to be paid off, while Giedo van de Garde had been confident that he had the seat.
Sutil signed a firm two-year deal last year, which did not require him to bring any sponsorship – and he is paid a salary by the team. Sources suggest that there are no options or any way Sauber can cancel the contract without it becoming an expensive exercise for the Swiss team.
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Sauber’s view is clearly that the sponsorship income from Ericsson and Nasr will more than cover the cost of paying Sutil to not to drive – and meanwhile the German is being told that, unless he walks away, the team’s future is at risk.
Presumably there was some pressure from Nasr’s sponsor to go ahead with the announcement this weekend before the Sutil situation was resolved, which could make things messy legally.
“There are certain things to talk about, definitely, yes,” said Sutil on Thursday. “I mean they’ve confirmed two drivers, it doesn’t mean the drivers are going to drive, and it doesn’t mean the team are going to drive. So there’s no real change from last weekend to this weekend. It’s just an announcement, and now of course in my situation I think I have to do some talking to sort out the things.”
Asked if he thought he would be in F1 next year he said: “At the moment, I don’t know. Maybe. F1 is unpredictable, but as I said there are a few things to talk about first, and the team has to comment on the rest.”
As to the signing of Nasr, team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said: “We have been following Felipe’s career path for some time now, and he fully deserves his position in Formula One having had a very successful career in junior categories. We are happy that he will be driving for our team next year. This means that Brazil will have one more young and talented driver in the sport. Banco do Brasil has been an important partner for Felipe so far, and we are delighted that such a renowned company is continuing to support him during this important step. We look forward to this partnership.”
Felipe Nasr added: “It is a very important step in my career to sign with the Sauber F1 Team for the 2015 Formula One World Championship. This is an unforgettable moment that I owe to all of those who have supported me – my family, my friends, my sponsors, my teams and my country. Today the dream has come true. Sauber was responsible for the arrival in F1 of great names such as Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel. I am proud now to also be part of this racing family. I had a wonderful year at Williams Martini, where I learned a lot and prepared myself to be a race driver in Formula One.”