Felipe Nasr will make his Formula One debut next year with Sauber, the team has confirmed.
The Brazilian driver will join Marcus Ericsson, whose move to the team was announced last week. Nasr’s signing means both current drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez will be without places next year.
Nasr is currently second in the GP2 championship, which has already been won by rival Jolyon Palmer.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the team “have been following Felipe’s career path for some time now” and that he “fully deserves his position in Formula One having had a very successful career in junior categories”.
Banco do Brasil, one of Nasr’s backers, helped facilitate the move and their logos will appear on the team’s car next year. “Banco do Brasil has been an important partner for Felipe so far,” said Kaltenborn, “we are delighted that such a renowned company is contuing to support him during this important step”.
Nasr, who has made four appearances in practice sessions this year with Williams, said the confirmation of his race debut was “an unforgettable moment” for him.
“Today the dream has come true,” he said. “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.”
Nasr, 22, was champion in the short-lived Formula BMW Europe championship, which briefly supported the F1 calendar, in 2009. Two years later he won the British F3 championship with Carlin before moving up to GP2.
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82 comments on “Sutil and Gutierrez out as Nasr joins Sauber”
6th November 2014, 8:08
Perfect driver for Sauber in my opinion. He’s a great talent and brings in a lot of money. Best of both worlds.
Although as a Dutchman it is sad for Giedo vd Garde. We all know Giedo also brings in a lot of money. He could drive for Caterham this year, but chose to be a test/reserve driver at Sauber to get a raceseat for 2015. In hindsight he better could have driven for Caterham this year. Then Ericcson wouldn’t be driving at Caterham, and if Giedo was able to be on pace with Kobayashi he could be driving at Sauber for 2015.
6th November 2014, 10:31
And Giedo had a chance in F1, although Caterham was a difficult place to prove you’re a future world champion… + he is already 29 years old, time for the younger talents to prove themselves!
6th November 2014, 10:40
@jlracing I think Gierdo was kind of saving money for 2015 and could not be sure to ‘buy’ his seat in 2014 and still have enough left for 2015. That’s strategy and unfortunately for him, it didn’t pay off.
However it is not really sad to see Gutierrez and Sutil left, they didn’t show anything sparkling this year. Just a hope from Sutil at COTA but unfortunately the story doesn’t tell how it would have ended …
As a Dutchman, I do believe Max Verstappen brings brighter prospect (ans as a belgian, I don’t understand why he is Dutch being born in Hasselt, but we will have Vandoorne soon). I do not believe Gierdo had what it takes to be at the sharp end of the grid, even if it’s always difficult to have a proper judgement on backmarker. But I do believe the best of them lately is Jules Bianchi which should have move to a beter team already.
7th November 2014, 10:42
I agree that its likely VdGarde was saving up a bit this year to have a good shot (16million?) at a seat this year @jeanrien.
And its unlikely VdGarde would have been at Caterham instead of Ericsson anyway. Instead he would have been there instead of Kobayashi. And the team would still have folded. Not sure a year of driving that car for a lot of money is all that better than being a valued team member at Sauber (the team mentioned that repeatedly, and would have probably taken him for next year if not for Marcus and 20 million turning up due to Caterham going bust).
And yes, I think we can be glad to have a very hot prospect on the grid in Max Verstappen who can really be a race winner in F1 if things go well, instead of the so-so efforts of drivers like VdGarde or before him Doornbos or Albers
Lewis McMurray (@celicadion23)
6th November 2014, 8:08
Nothing like a curveball to spice up the silly season! Was not expecting this. Good choice though, Nasr’s a top quality driver.
6th November 2014, 8:16
I hate how people are already calling him a pay driver. Sauber need money badly, and at least in Nasr they have a driver with funds and serious skills, who to win that British F3 title beat his team mate, K-Mag. Really really happy about this. Rather him than the journey men van der Garde or Sutil.
6th November 2014, 8:40
“I hate how people are already calling him a pay driver.”
Because he is clearly a pay driver by definition of the word!
German press reports than Sutil had a valid contract for 2015 and that they (Sauber / Banco do Brasil) are paying him off.
So he his literally buying himself a seat.
Sure, he might be talented and maybe could have made it without the ‘help’, but that does not change facts.
6th November 2014, 10:11
“Because he is clearly a pay driver by definition of the word!”
I can’t agree that anyone who has proper backing should be labeled a “pay driver”. Generally and throughout F1 history the term “pay driver” has been used in derogatory fashion for drivers who could never have been in F1 without the backing because they lack talent.
Nasr is a different case. He brings good money, but his junior track record indicates he is talented. Not a superstar like Vandoorne or Frijns, but still talented enough to make it to F1 on merit as well. Give me drivers like Nasr over Chilton or Ericsson any time.
6th November 2014, 10:40
@jmc200 Well he is a pay-driver since he’s presumably out-bided Telmex, but as @mattds says, that doesn’t make the derogatory connotations of the term applicable. I think most F1 followers know that Nasr has potential, since has driven FP1 sessions for Williams and has been a GP2 front runner for the past two seasons, so a repeat of the comments made about Perez after he was announced is unlikely (Sauber were criticised for choosing Perez over Heidfeld because other than finishing runner-up in GP2 in 2010, Sergio had an underwhelming junior record; he was initially regarded as a pay driver in every sense of the word).
6th November 2014, 12:11
Whenever I think about lambasting “pay drivers” I remind myself that Lauda himself had to buy his way into Formula One and look how that turned out…
6th November 2014, 12:54
@BT52B And that’s not even counting Alonso who probably has the biggest paycheck of all via Banco Santander that he carries everywhere he goes. They bought Kimi out of Ferrari for him a few years ago. So in my books, there are pay drivers and there are pay drivers, :)
6th November 2014, 16:14
@eduardogigante Don’t forget Ayrton, who only ever drove for Toleman because of funding from his parents and the Nacional sponsorship he brought. Add to that list Massa, Kovalainen, Kubica, Perez, Barrichello and of course Alonso, who perhaps wouldn’t have got an F1 chance without his budget, and bringing a budget to a team is no shame.
6th November 2014, 14:20
I’m not disputing that he’s a pay driver, but that he, rather like Perez, is also a handy driver.
6th November 2014, 16:18
@jmc200 Well you rather suggested you did dispute it by saying you hated the way people were referring to Nasr as such. So what you are saying is that Felipe is a pay driver, we’re just not allowed to say it?
6th November 2014, 16:50
Well I think that pay driver is such a derogatory term, what I’m saying is that Nasr should not be simply labelled as a pay driver just because of the money he brings, yes he wouldn’t be on the grid without it, but loads of drivers wouldn’t be either. Let’s see how he goes, I’ll happily eat my words. It’s easy to forget the Finnish companies that sponsor Williams rather prominently, yet Bottas has never been called a pay driver. It’s all a matter of perspective. (Though I’m not saying Felipe is as good as Bottas, he isn’t) Ultimately drivers like Perez, Bottas and Nasr are a good middle ground, who are good enough to be in F1 without money (I assume Nasr will be) but who also bring money. Ericsson, Chilton and various other hopeless drivers I would say are not deserving of a seat without their money.
7th November 2014, 8:57
@jmc200 I’m not asking you to eat your words, merely to accept that whilst the term “pay driver” has negative connotations it merely means a driver that brings a budget in principle, and so therein is applicable to Nasr, and Bottas, Perez, Massa and Alonso as well as Chilton, Gutierrez, Maldonado and Ericsson. Hopefully Nasr’s backing gives him the necessary safety net to allow his talent to establish in F1.
6th November 2014, 8:20
Very surprising. He had a chance of being in F1 in 2014 but his main sponsor OGX went in liquidation so the deal to replace Chilton fell through. He has clearly since found backing enough to outdo even Gutierrez and his Telmex backing.
Regarding Nasr himself, whilst it will nice to see him on the grid in that he’s a definite improvement on Esteban, I think Felipe would be lying to himself in he said his GP2 career had gone as he’d liked, especially after beating Magnussen in British F3. Whilst he was a title contender for most of his GP2 career it would contort the facts if it was ever claimed he was in genuine title contention. Felipe must ensure that his tendency to suffer off-colour weekends, as he has done in GP2 for the past two rounds thus bringing Vandoorne within range of P2, is not carried over to F1, as consistent speed is invariably the key to a long-lived F1 career.
Over all he will be a welcome edition to the grid, and if he can refine the form he showed in British F3 and Formula BMW (Van der Garde-esque loss of career momentum as he drove more powerful cars?) he could be here for a while.
6th November 2014, 8:52
“He had a chance of being in F1 in 2014 but his main sponsor OGX went in liquidation so the deal to replace Chilton fell through.”
I don’t think he ever wanted to replace Chilton, I read somewhere last year that he only wanted to join F1 in a midfield team.
6th November 2014, 9:27
@hunocsi I am quite sure Nasr was in advanced negotiations with Marussia when OGX went pop, hence the delay in announcing Chilton. In the version of events I’ve heard, Marussia were a bit underwhelmed by Max’s pace in 2013, and were hoping to use their alliance with McLaren to become their B-team with subsidised McLaren juniors using the team as a stepping stone. This promptly fell through after Ferrari paid Marussia an inordinate sum to field Bianchi, and as Ferrari connections grew stronger those with McLaren disintegrated. Having planned to replace Chilton with a subsidised junior driver like Bianchi, Marussia approached Nasr, just as his sponsor went bankrupt, and Chilton kept the seat. I can’t confirm that was the case, but it is a likely scenario, although I am virtually 100% certain Nasr was in advanced Marussia talks this time last year.
Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty)
6th November 2014, 14:16
@countrygent Bianchi-Nasr would have been a great line up for Marussia! I hope Palmer can at least outbid Chilton for 2015, if Manor manage to enter with new owners.
6th November 2014, 15:44
@fastiesty I think Vandoorne is now looking strong for Jules’ sadly vacated seat, and Palmer is obviously gunning for Chilton’s spot, but he will only stand a chance if can exceed the budget that Max brings, which I think is unlikely. That said Jonathan Palmer is a great guy and a good friend of mine, and he’s intelligent enough to know that Jolyon needs to outbid other drivers to replace them, so I would imagine he has a respectable budget, so yes, Palmer has a chance.
6th November 2014, 16:03
Williams will want a new Nasr – a reserve who’ll bring some backing and drive a few tests and Friday mornings (promoting Susie Wolff would be a good story, but unlikely – presumably most or all of their Banco do Brasil backing has gone off to Sauber).
Wouldn’t that be a better target for Palmer (just like his dad?!) Depends how desperate Jolyon is to race – but Marussia’s missed races and administration isn’t a good start at being competitive in 2015. Even Mercedes struggled with a car developed when money was tight at Brawn.
6th November 2014, 16:26
@bullfrog Interesting point, who will be the new Nasr? Merhi would be my bet since he has Mercedes backing like Williams, although it would be really nice to see the opportunity given to Oliver Rowland or Dean Stoneman. I think Palmer will struggle beyond the backmarkers to forge meaningful relationships with teams since most are aware he finishes a lowly 19th in his rookie GP2 season whilst Vandoorne is looking set for 2nd. Wehrlein, Merhi and Vandoorne are certainly the most likely candidates.
6th November 2014, 9:07
Regarding the incumbent Sauber drivers, I think eyes should remain pretty dry if neither are on the grid next year. I have always maintained that Sutil is prone to flashes of speed, and in 2011 he was certainly the standout performer of the midfield. However formula 2014 hasn’t suited his driving style, so I think he realises the natural conclusion to his career has arrived.
I can’t imagine Esteban is so relaxed. He has always come across as a perfectly nice kid on the occasions I’ve interviewed him and Sauber claim he is professional and diligent at setting the car up, but he should have performed so much better in F1 than he has on the basis of his junior career. Throttle modulation does appear to be a key issue for Gutierrez and with the torque effect of the new V6 engines I tend to feel inclined to wince when FOM play an onboard clip of his car. Also his tendency to leave room to spare on exits and be cautious on entry reeks of a lack of confidence, and whilst the C33’s deficiencies explain much of that, he did have a perfectly excellent car in the dying stages of 2013 but managed just one points finish. He is a curious case, especially since he, like future stars Bottas and Kvyat, is a GP3 champion, but I would suggest the way the decline in his career is correlated to driving more powerful cars (he was the overwhelming title favourite in GP2 in 2012 but failed to match expectations) is just supporting evidence for his throttle modulation issues; albeit strangely he has performed well in the wet in F1. Just strange.
6th November 2014, 10:19
Maybe he’d have done better at another team with access to endless hours on a simulator. Then those kinds of issue could be trained or engineered out, before he even went near a track. I hope Nasr can deal with that – the Sauber way of engineers coaching drivers isn’t supported by recent results.
Gutierrez has had as long as Bottas in F1 now – and I agree the Sauber looked a decent car in the last few races of 2013 (as Alonso will tell you!) but he only got one good race out of it. I think it’s fair to give a driver a second year in F1, so his career isn’t wrecked by one rubbish car – so I don’t mind seeing Ericsson back again. Recent wastes of space like Piquet, Nakajima and Chilton all got a second year.
6th November 2014, 11:19
@bullfrog I largely agree with you there, and the point about simulators is one made by my colleagues with regards Esteban, but having coached Kobayashi and Perez from junior category mediocrity to F1 podium finishers is a respectable feat, albeit minor versus the young driver successes of Williams and Force India. I can’t help but feel with Gutierrez that the speed just wasn’t there, and whilst the team were very complementary about his technical knowledge and feedback, one senses they were growing tired of his continued lack of progress.
The comparison with Nakajima (who strangely is becoming one of Toyota’s fastest WEC drivers) is perhaps not as apt as that with Piquet Jr, who like Gutierrez showed real promise in the junior series, he was a handful for Hamilton in GP2 no less, and his second year was largely out of the hope that that promise would materialise. It didn’t and from that moment the advantage second year drivers had over GP2 rookies became clear, because it had seemingly allowed an average driver to worry Lewis for the title. Also, I think the protracted evaluation period died with Piquet’s F1 career, because parallel to Piquet Vettel, Glock and Hamilton were making immediate impressions. The “get in and go quick” attitude has certainly helped alleviate young driver backlogs by promptly disposing of those with little potential…unless the team needs their sponsorship that is.
6th November 2014, 11:09
After his Monaco accident, I can understand why he would want to leave space everywhere.
6th November 2014, 12:49
This is complete guesswork on my part, but I imagine the Telmex backing had somewhat diminished once Perez brought Slim’s companies to Force India. Although Telmex stayed at Sauber, I would wager they were getting a bit less than they had previously. Perez was more Slim’s focus than Gutierrez.
6th November 2014, 13:17
@deej92 I think the only scenario in which the Sauber sponsorship would have been diminished would have come through a duality of rivalry with Sauber’s Russian investors and the realisation that Force India’s better performances made it the more lucrative commercial platform. That said, all marketing is good marketing and betting commercial capacity on Force India remaining superior to Sauber is probably not the kind of game a businessman as successful as Carlos Slim Jr would play; especially if Sauber started on the C34 as early as has been reported (May). Also I couldn’t fathom why Slim would allow driver preferences intervene with important sponsorship deals.
I simply think Nasr was the higher bidder. If it does indeed turn out that Banco do Brasil is the major sponsor he’s brought to Sauber then they have upped their sponsorship, since Banco do Brasil sponsorship alone was not enough for Nasr to land a Marussia drive last year after OGX went into liquidation. As for Gutierrez, he will almost certainly drive for either Manor (Marussia) or Caterham if they are on the grid next year.
6th November 2014, 16:32
@countrygent Well, word here in Mexico is that sponsorship has indeed gone down every year since Pérez left, but I also think Mr Slim has been disappointed somewhat with Gutiérrez performance and let’s be honest he wouldn’t be the richest man in the world (well his dad at least) if he didn’t take smart business decisions, giving even more money to Sauber AND Force India clearly isn’t one.
6th November 2014, 17:32
@mantresx Well if that is the word then I must bow to your insight, but point I was making is that having two fewer cars embellished with your sponsorship just because they go a bit slower or are piloted by Mexico’s less illustrious F1 driver doesn’t make commercial sense. The only scenario in which Telmex can legally (they obviously have a contract) reduce levels of sponsorship is if the product Sauber offer, a commercial platform, is devalued, which would take the form of Sauber getting less air time than previous years. However that is presumably the case with all their sponsors, and it is not exactly outside the realms of reason that with an extended period of development for 2015 and with a larger sponsorship package from their drivers (the only way Sutil and Gutierrez would have been replaced is by being out bided by larger sponsors) that they are set for a more promising 2015 and crucially more air time. So I would simply say that any reduction in Telmex backing for Sauber would just have been the continuous reactions to the ebb and flow of car air time rather than any contractual adjustment with regards a slow C34 or Gutierrez’s inadequacies.
6th November 2014, 8:33
Nasr makes sense, he looks like a promising guy but Ericsson was underwhelming even for the low expectations I had at the beginning. So I’m really surprised that Sauber didn’t pair Nasr with either GUT or SUT. It’s probably safe to assume that Ericsson’s money bags are way bigger.
6th November 2014, 9:54
Ericssons money bags are rumoured to hold a stunning 18 million € or $ (I forget which).
I’m with you, I found Ericssons performances to be quite far from impressive.
Sliding into Massa in the Monaco GP qualifying must’ve been the clumsiest move of the season, and being outqualified by the virtually inexperienced Lottner wasn’t brilliant, either.
Well, Nasr at least is a very promising driver. If the 2015 Sauber isn’t as rubbish as this year’s car, we might be able to watch a rising star.
6th November 2014, 12:38
We’ve been over this before.
Look up Lotterer’s racing record – whilst he’s only had very limited experience in Formula One, his racing record in both closed and open wheel categories is vast.
6th November 2014, 13:04
In fairness to Ericsson his performances have improved more recently.
They said on Sky at the Russian Gp than his biggest problem all season has been with the brake by wire system & that his biggest time loss was under braking as he didn’t have confidence in what the car would do when he hit the brakes.
After Singapore he convinced the engineer’s to alter the BBW settings so that there’s less aggressive harvesting under braking which makes the BBW system more predictable & since that time he’s out-qualified Kobayashi in both races & has generally been a lot faster than he was.
7th November 2014, 10:53
Good point PeterG.
While not all too hopefull of Ericsson from what we have seen of him so far, it is true that after sorting some things to get the Caterham to react more predictably (like tuning down how much the brake by wire “helps”) his last couple of races do give hope that he can grow more in his second year and in a better car (well, surely the Sauber will be next year, right?).
Something Guttierez did not show this year.
Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid)
6th November 2014, 8:39
Well looks like Guttierez and Sutil won’t be in F1 next year. Not to sound dismissive of the two but I doubt they’ll be missed. It seems people will miss Sutil’s girlfriend more than they’ll miss him!
As for Nasr I’m happy to see a new face in F1. I find him entertaining to watch in GP2 but at the same time quite frustrating, as he’s prone to some mistakes or seemingly losing the will to fight mid-race. If he can get to a place where he’s consistently delivering then he could be a surprise to many. All in all Felipe Nasr reminds me of another Felipe, and not just due to similar names. I think he shares a lot in common with early 2000’s Massa.
7th November 2014, 9:02
@colossal-squid – I wouldn’t be so sure we have seen the back of Gutierrez, I’m sure if they return either Caterham or Marussia would welcome his Telmex millions.
Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid)
7th November 2014, 11:12
@countrygent Yeah, you’re probably right. Considering there’s a Mexican GP scheduled for next year it would make sense for Guttierez to have another year to piggyback his sponsors and any team that’d take his money for the exposure that will create.
Mike Dee (@mike-dee)
6th November 2014, 8:40
And still nothing confirmed for Vettel, Alonso and Button… Strange!
6th November 2014, 12:34
As nobody knows yet how many teams will really make it to next year, nobody, not even the teams and drivers, know wether the top-teams will have 2 or 3 drivers. I imagine that´s what makes everybody wait.
6th November 2014, 8:55
Another option for Fernando gone :-)
6th November 2014, 8:57
Who pays for Ericsson btw?
6th November 2014, 9:07
F1Fanatic commentators decrying the state of the backmarkers’ financial woes, yet criticise when they select pay drivers. I don’t see the financial imbalance of F1 changing soon, so I don’t suppose those critics have an alternative plan, do they?
Looking at his credentials, it looks like he’ll bring talent and money. I hope that this secures Sauber’s future for 2015.
6th November 2014, 9:50
Whilst F1 teams can’t afford to buy engines, tyres, design a competitive car and pay their drivers, this is the only solution.
If you pay for a quick driver but don’t develop the car enough or buy tyres or an engine for it, they aren’t going to go very fast.
6th November 2014, 11:21
Classic Chicken and Egg scenario.
But when you consider that the economic situations teams find themselves in is purely artificial, especially when you consider a team like Sauber with years of participation, then the objective is survival first. The money to invest and go faster is not there, so they have to build up again slowly and they can not now afford to compete with the top teams who get paid to compete much more than some teams get for finishing 5th or higher. How can they compete with such unrealistic economics.
6th November 2014, 9:24
Not sure if this line-up will be any better than their current one :/
6th November 2014, 12:44
It won´t. Nasr may at best get as good as Sutil after some years of experience, which he doesn´t have. Ericsson has performed little better than Taki Inoue in his days… This feels like the end of Sauber, with this line-up points will be difficult even with a better car, without points there is no money, meaning they stay on pay-drivers for following years… awful.
With Sutil they at least had a chance of scoring at some point.
7th November 2014, 9:21
Don’t you dare slander the greatest of all drivers Taki Inoue!! ;) Nasr though has shown very good form in his early career, Sutil to me has been a midfield driver from the get go, never showing anything other than flashes, and nothing to tempt the bigger teams with.
Once again, with erricsson, it is really hard to gauge the skills when the car they currently drive forces a lack of confidence in it, time will tell on him.
Ed Marques (@edmarques)