Esteban Gutierrez made his F1 weekend track debut in practice for the Indian Grand Prix on Friday, when he filled in for the 'unwell' Sergio Perez – and speaking afterwards the test and reserve man said he was 'ready to get into the car again', if circumstances require.
The GP2 Series racewinner is expected to be confirmed as a full member of the Swiss team in 2013, and while Perez didn't look particularly ill during the opening session and was fine to return to the cock-pit for the second practice, it was still a good opportunity for Gutierrez to get some more F1 mileage and he did 29 tours in total. Furthermore while he only posted the 20th best time in FP1 - his quickest effort a 1 minute 31.212 seconds, which was over a second slower than Kamui Kobayashi in the sister car, it was only not only his first time at the Buddh International Circuit, but also his first proper outing behind the wheel of the C31.
“It was a great experience to step in for Sergio this morning. For me it was the first time I have been at the wheel of the C31, as I have only done straight line testing so far. Also I didn't know the track before, which made it an even more interesting session,” Guiterrez confirmed.
“I have worked very closely with the team all season, listening to the radio and attending the engineers' meetings. Today I really enjoyed seeing from the inside of the cockpit what I had only seen from the outside. It was also very interesting to be part of an official Formula One event for the first time. It is obviously different to testing and it is challenging to stay focused. I think the circuit here is amazing, especially with the chain of fast corners.
“However, my target was to progress during that session and make sure I brought the car home in one piece. Now Sergio will be taking over again but, in case anything should happen, I feel ready to get into the car again.”
Perez meanwhile was back in the cockpit for FP2 and he finished up 12th overall on a 1m 28.178s, with Kobayashi back in 16th: “For me the second free practice was as difficult as expected in terms of finding a good set up for a single lap, but I think we look quite good when it comes to covering the race distance. Of course I didn't get the mileage I wanted today because I could not take part in the first free practice session, but, despite this, it was a productive day for the team and we have enough information to make the most out of our chances,” Perez commented.
“I found it difficult today to find any grip,” Kobayashi added. “I can't really say whether this is down to the dust on the circuit, the tyres or the car. Most probably it is a combination of all those factors and we have to find the best way to improve. This goes especially for when we run low fuel, although I didn't do that many laps with a lighter car.
“I spent a lot of time running on a high fuel load and I think we are doing fine with the heavier car. We have to work now, but also to consider that anyway the grip level of the track will improve.”