Sauber has confirmed that Esteban Gutierrez will be promoted from its reserve role to a race seat alongside Nico Hulkenberg for the 2013 Formula 1 season.
Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn says she is confident that the 21-year-old Mexican, a long time Sauber protege, is now ready to be on the F1 grid.
"Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely," she said. "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's appointment was inadvertently revealed on Thursday at Interlagos when outgoing Sauber driver Sergio Perez referred to his countryman as having secured the second 2013 race seat. Perez and Gutierrez share the same Mexican backing.
"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, who won the 2010 GP3 title before spending two years in GP2. "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."
The announcement means Kamui Kobayashi is unlikely be on next year's F1 grid. Perez has already secured a McLaren seat for 2013. Kaltenborn thanked Kobayashi for his contribution to Sauber since joining in 2010.
"Over the last three years Kamui has shown us he is not only a fierce competitor on the track, but also a wonderful person and fantastic team player," she said. "Every member of our team has the greatest respect for him, and his podium in Japan was a particularly emotional moment for all of us.
"This has not been an easy decision for us to take, but we have committed ourselves to a new beginning and our time with Kamui will come to an end after the final two races of the season. We wish Kamui all the best for the future."