Sergio Perez sat out the first practice session in India on Friday morning as he recovers from a heavy cold.
Sauber’s reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez, another Telmex-backed Mexican who is tipped to replace his McLaren-bound countryman in 2013, stepped in for the 90-minute session.
“This should help Sergio’s speedy recovery so he is able to drive for the remainder of the weekend,” the Swiss team said in a media statement.
Perez was seen chatting and smiling with Gutierrez in the Sauber pit garage on Friday morning. The team has not decided if Perez will return to his car in the afternoon.
No longer facing arrest over bounced cheques, Force India chief Vijay Mallya could still endure a trying race weekend in his native India.
The Hindustan Times newspaper reports that unpaid and grounded staff of the billionaire’s beleaguered Kingfisher airline intend to confront Mallya at the Buddh circuit this weekend.
“We have planned to stage a dharna (sit-in protest) when Mr Vijay Mallya comes at the grand prix,” an unnamed Kingfisher engineer said. “A protest at the sporting event will highlight our plight to the entire world.”
An air hostess added: “What is the option left before us but to protest? All of us are in deep financial crisis, but (Mallya) is unperturbed. (He is,) in fact, mocking at our misery with (his) lifestyle.”