Robin Frijns is set for a long-term role with Sauber, provided his run in the Abu Dhabi young driver test proves a success.
The 21-year-old, who was recently crowned Formula Renault 3.5 champion in controversial circumstances, is scheduled to drive for Sauber for one day. The team plans to tie him down to a long-term deal having been impressed with his progress over the past three years, during which he has won the Formula BMW Europe, Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault 3.5 title.
"With Robin, we feel that he is very talented driver and that's why we want to give him this opportunity," said team principal Monica Kaltenborn when asked about the reasons for running Frijns, who is not bringing money to test the car. "It is a test for now and then we will see what goes ahead. Let him first prove himself – we should first see what he does.
"We want to look at him because we think that he's very talented."
Frijns has admitted that his performance in the Abu Dhabi test could be key to his career. Currently, he is arguably the strongest driver without any affiliation to an F1 team.
Kaltenborn added that reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez, who made his debut as Friday driver in India, will continue to be prepared for a future F1 role at the test. It is yet to be finalised whether he will race for the team next year.
"It is part of the project, we are preparing his way to Formula 1 and this is the only place he can really drive because we know we need our Fridays to be given to our drivers as they are not so experienced. That's why we gave this opportunity to Esteban."