The 18-year-old has come under some criticism in recent months after Sauber announced their intentions to position him in a race seat for 2014. Adrian Sutil recently said that letting teenagers driving in F1 could be “dangerous” but Kaltenborn is still convinced by the Russian’s talent.
Sirotkin’s racing season in Formula Renault 3.5 finished in disappointing style earlier this month after three consecutive retirements. He continues to build his experience with F1 machinery after a demo run for Sauber at the Sochi circuit in Russia and a test at in the 2009 Ferrari.
Kaltenborn has made it clear that if he gets his required FIA superlicense, he will be on the 2014 grid. His announcement at the team in July came at the same time as a crucial deal with three Russian institutes to help secure the team’s financial future. Some believe that if Sirotkin isn’t on the grid next season, the deal won’t take place. However, Kaltenborn insists that the driver is only one part of the deal.
She told Sky Sports F1: “There are three elements to this partnership. One of course being on the sponsorship side, the commercial benefits companies’ have, one being on the technological side, which is a very big emphasis also – why they opted for us is also because of our track record like we had the partnership with Petronas.
“Then there is the driver in there but clearly nobody would pressurise the driver if things don’t work. We are still convinced of him, everything’s going fine, there is no reason to doubt him that he cannot do it also.
“But it was never a situation that if he was not there the rest is not there. It is three parts, so it’s not really affected us because the partners we are talking to don’t have as their primary target to get a Russian driver in there. They have their own targets as a company and that’s what they are going to follow.”
Talking about the youngsters Ferrari test, she added: “We unfortunately couldn’t test on the first planned day because of the rain, so the weather conditions were not ideal to do that. But on the second planned day actually he did a very good programme,” she said.
“He did just a bit under 200km and he did a very good job. We don’t want to go in to lap times because they really don’t say that much, even if they are good. But he did a really good job. The engineers were very happy with him. It wasn’t easy to drive the car because of his height, so it was really physically also very difficult. But he did really a good job. We have a programme where we know all what we have to do but we just have to be a bit flexible about the dates and [whether it's in] simulator or not, or tracks.
“That we can decide very quickly – if there’s a move in there we change five days or whatever. Our very clear intention is to get him in to Formula 1.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic