Sauber rookie Esteban Gutierrez says that he will only be measuring himself against team-mate Nico Hulkenberg this season, despite the expected comparisons with predecessor Sergio Perez.
Gutierrez, who finished third in last year's GP2 Series standings, replaced his fellow Mexican in the Sauber line-up when Perez was snapped up by McLaren to fill the seat vacated by Lewis Hamilton. Despite the obvious similarities between them, however, the F1 newcomer insists that he will not be comparing his performance to his predecessor.
"My focus is to work on myself, to focus on the most important things and not to waste time only by beating one
of the drivers,” he told Sky Sports
, "We all know that we are 22 drivers in F1 and we don't need to waste the time only by competing [against] two of us. The fact that we are both Mexicans, it's a characteristic, we have to respect each other the same as we have to respect the other drivers. It's competitive."
Instead, Gutierrez acknowledges that the better yardstick for his progress will be new team-mate Hulkenberg, who transfers in to lead the Sauber line-up after impressing with Force India in 2012. The German, who raced with the same teams as Gutierrez on his way up the single-seater ladder, led the F1 season finale at Interlagos before going on to finish fifth, and was linked to the likes of Ferrari and McLaren before those doors closed in favour of Felipe Massa and Perez.
"For me, [Nico]'s a great reference," Gutierrez insisted, "He has three years of [F1] experience - two as a driver and one as a test driver - and also his level of communication to the team is very high. For me, it's important at the beginning to have a good reference and I feel very grateful to be in this position and [be able] to create a good base to progress to[wards] my potential."