Vitaly Petrov could oust countryman Sergey Sirotkin at Sauber for 2014 before 2013 is even over, reports Motorsport.com.
According to Auto Sport und Motor the Russian driver is in talks with Sauber after arriving with $30m in sponsorship from Russia in his back pocket.
18-year-old Sirotkin was seen as a certain driver for the Swiss team in 2014 as part of a separate Russian sponsorship deal to save the team from it's financial strife, however, it has been revealed that payments from the group are running late.
Another element that could swing in Petrov's favour is one of his backers is speculated to be Gazprom - one of the biggest company's in the world.
Speaking on Thursday, Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn admitted talks with Petrov had taken place.
"We saw Vitaly in Sochi (for a F1 demonstration) in September and, as we know, we talked, no more than that," she insisted.
However, when speaking about Sirotkin, the tone of Kaltenborn's suggests a change in plans could be in the works.
"Of course, no one will put pressure on him if something does not add up," she said.
"But we still believe in Sergey, even if it is true that if our plans for him cannot be achieved, then there are other elements of the cooperation."
One element possibly touted was Sirotkin switching to a reserve role with a more experienced driver taking his race seat.
Kaltenborn responded to the suggestion: "We have thought about that, and we have a number of options associated with different drivers."
But the Indian-born Austrian insisted nothing serious came from the conversation with Petrov.
"We didn't talk about the extent to which he is available," Kaltenborn smiled. "I asked him what he's doing now, and Vitaly told me about his ascent of Mount Everest!"
Meanwhile, team owner Peter Sauber had a different tone admitting he would happily keep both Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.
"We are pleased with both drivers," he is quoted by Blick newspaper. "I would actually like to keep them."
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