Sao Paulo, Nov 23 (IANS) Sauber reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico earned himself a race seat with the team for the 2013 Formula 1 season.
The 21−year old Mexican will partner the recently−confirmed Nico Hulkenberg, who joins Sauber from Force India.
Dutchman Robin Frijns will replace Gutirrez as the Swiss squad's new test and reserve driver, which leaves out current racer Kamui Kobayashi, who has been at Sauber since 2010, without a confirmed drive for 2013.
"Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely," said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn on the F1 site.
"In 2010 we signed him up as an affiliated driver and in 2011 and 2012 he was our test and reserve driver. We mapped out his path to Formula 1 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 Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez."
Gutierrez began his career in karting. He was runner−up in the 2007 Formula BMW USA series and went on to win the Formula BMW Europe crown a year later.
After a spell in the Formula 3 Euro Series, he switched to GP3 in 2010 and stormed to the title with five race wins. Two seasons in GP2 followed, the second of which (in 2012) saw him collect three victories and finish third in the standings.
He was given the first of several chances to test for Sauber in 2009 and his most recent outing for the team was at the young driver test in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
"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 1 driver in a very progressive way," said Gutierrez.
"Now, after experiencing other categories of racing as an introduction to Formula 1, this is the start of the real challenge to succeed at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Sauber go into this weekend's season−ending Brazilian Grand Prix placed sixth in the constructors' standings, 25 points ahead of Force India and 12 behind Mercedes.