When Sauber's plans to fast-track Sergey Sirotkin to Formula 1 in 2014 first emerged, it was hard to find many people who agreed that it was the right way to go about nurturing the Russian teenager.
People who had worked with him, even during his at times impressive rookie campaign in Formula Renault 3.5, were adamant in conversations with AUTOSPORT that his development would be far better served by taking the time he needed to gain experience on the ladder before trying to make the step to F1.
Sirotkin's talent, or more accurately his potential, is not in doubt at this stage. When he stood on the FR3.5 podium for the first time as a 17-year-old last April, he was younger than a significant number of the drivers competing in the supporting Formula Renault Eurocup.
He's made it to this level ahead of schedule, but that process did not need to be accelerated further.
Staying in the same junior series for 2014 is the perfect solution for the 18-year-old, who can now go about mounting a title challenge with the team that has enjoyed so much success in the last few years with Alexander Rossi, Robin Frijns and Stoffel Vandoorne.
Sirotkin said at the end of last season that his F1 preparations with Sauber had benefitted his FR3.5 racing, even if results didn't always show it. Now, he has everything he needs to prove that has indeed been the case.
The 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 season will be notable for being the last with the French company's backing but also produced a worthy champion in Oliver Rowland. PETER MILLS evaluates this year's crop of drivers
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