Russian Sergey Sirotkin has said the 'pay driver' label attached to him as he prepares to enter F1 next year with Sauber is "completely wrong".

Sirotkin will comfortably beat the record held for youngest ever race driver when he makes his debut at 17 next year, but because the move is linked with the Russian backed investment heading into Sauber many are giving Sirotkin the 'pay driver' tag. 

"That is completely wrong," Sirotkin told Basler Zeitung newspaper.

"There is much more to it. We are talking about a big project, where another driver could have been selected.


"It's not an investment in me, it's about the big picture," he insisted.


"It's not that I'm going to drive in F1 for fun, I have been selected because of my performance. I want people to respect what I do.


"It's about the promotion of Formula 1 in Russia. And it's also quite normal that the driver also brings a sponsor, just as Fernando Alonso brings Santander bank to Ferrari," added Sirotkin.

But his age seems to be the main factor most are taking into consideration when debating whether Sirotkin is ready to make such a bold move to F1. 

At just 17 he will be nearly 2 years younger than Sebastian Vettel who previously held the record, indeed Sirotkin is still not old enough to drive legally in his native Russia.

Asked if he is arguably too young for F1, he admitted: "Yes, that's right. It may be that I'm not 100 per cent ready, but I still have half a year to prepare.


"That should be enough," Sirotkin added.


"Maybe our results in the World Series are insufficient, but you can still see that we have the speed. We just need a little bit more luck in the races."

One man who knows all about entering F1 at a young age is McLaren's Jenson Button, he made his debut in F1 at just 20 back in 2000 and he admits he has his doubts over whether Sirotkin is ready.

"I began racing at 8," the Briton is quoted by Russia's Championat, "but even at twenty, realistically speaking, it was too early.


"I had to learn about the sport from the inside.


"On the one hand, it's good, but on the other hand, you can't hide.


"I think another year in the junior categories would have helped me come to Formula 1 much more prepared," added Button.


"I was not ready at 17. Maybe he is, I don't know, but he needs to be careful. Formula 1 is a tough business."


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Formula 1