LONDON, Sept 27, 2013 (AFP) - Sergey Sirotkin gave Formula One a glimpse of the future on Friday when he drove a Sauber in a demonstration event at Sochi, venue for next year's Winter Olympics and the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.
The 18-year-old Russian, whose arrival in F1 has been surrounded by speculation, is expected to race for Sauber next season, subject to him being
given a racing driver's 'super licence' by the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).
"These were my first metres in a Formula One car, which is obviously something very special even though it was only a short part of the Sochi track," said Sirotkin.
"Nevertheless, I was able to gain a first impression and this was awesome. It was fun to drive in front of such a big crowd, particularly because most of them were compatriots. Russia can be proud of this great track."
Sirotkin drove only 700 metres of the Sochi circuit and in doing so he had to miss free practice for his "normal" racing activities in the penultimate round of the Formula Renault championship at Le Castellet, in France.
For him, Sauber and Sochi, however, it was an exercise in gaining public and media attention as Russia, and the nation's sports stars, gather momentum ahead of hosting such major events as the Winter Games, Russian Grand Prix and the World Cup in 2018.
Doubts about Sirotkin's experience and ability, however, continued to swirl with Sauber moving swiftly to reassure critics that he will be fully-prepared for the challenge of racing with the elite next season.
His next scheduled run in an F1 car is due to take place at the end of October as part of a test programme aimed at developing him in readiness for
He is set to complete at least 15 days' driving in an F1 car before the end of the season to ensure he is ready for the start of pre-season testing next
Sauber had hoped to run him in an older car on Friday, but after logistical difficulties decided instead to pitch him into a 2013 machine.
It could be that he also has a chance to test a Ferrari -- one of the teams in F1 with a special relationship with Sauber -- in the next part of his