Sauber confirmed today that they have given Gustav Malja the opportunity to drive for them in the in-season test that follows the Hungarian GP, in August. This will be his first outing in F1 machinery.
Malja graduated to GP2 from Formula Renault in 2015. The current Racing Engineering driver has made it to the podium 3 times during his time in the series, including a third place finish in the Sprint race this weekend in Monaco. He currently sits 9th in the F2 championship.
Asked about the step up, Malja said “The prospect of driving a Formula 1 car is exceptionally thrilling and a childhood dream come true. I can’t wait to experience that sensation, I’m sure it will be a very surreal moment.”
Along with the announcement, Sauber Team Principal, Monisha Kaltenborn said “It will be a great opportunity for Gustav to make another step in his racing career and fulfil his childhood dream. Driving a Formula 1 car for the first time is always a special moment for race drivers, and so it is for Gustav. We have followed him in previous years, especially last year in the GP2 series where he consistently made progress.”
This move may come as a surprise to many as Ferrari Academy youngster, Antonio Giovinazzi is still eligible to participate in tests as a young driver, having started only 2 races in Formula 1. Giovinazzi stepped in for Pascal Wehrlein at the beginning of the season, following an injury sustained in the Race of Champions in Miami. His 2 race stint for the team began with an impressive outing in Australia but culminated in an early exit from the Chinese GP and a rather large repair bill.
With each team required to allocate half of their test days to young drivers and their full time pairing of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein having already participated in tests, Sauber will be required to allow a young driver to step into the car for the second day of testing in Hungary. They have yet to announce if Malja will remain in the car for both days, or if another young hopeful will get the call up.