Esteban Gutierrez has admitted that his F1 baptism has not been the easiest of times, but insists that he is determined to get to grips with the top flight sooner rather than later.
The Mexican's woes have included missing the Q1 cut twice in four races and clattering into the back of Force India's Adrian Sutil on the opening lap in China, earning himself a grid penalty for Bahrain as a result. While Sauber team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has found points hard to come by after a slow start for the Swiss team, but Gutierrez has yet to trouble scorers.
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has already conceded that the former reserve driver is 'struggling at the moment', and Gutierrez accepts that he is still finding his feet after stepping up from three years in GP2.
“Generally, it has not been the ideal start to the season,” he confirmed, “I would have liked to have a more consistent four races. When you're competing you're taking risks [but], especially at the beginning, it's important to find the right equilibrium between being conservative and taking risks. I have made some mistakes and, definitely, it has not been very positive, but I'm determined and focused to work, myself and also as a team. [Bahrain] was not a great track for us and, hopefully, it will be better for Barcelona.”
Gutierrez admits that, despite having spent a couple of seasons in the back-up role at Sauber before being promoted to a race seat, there has still been a lot to get used to in 2013.
“Basically, one of the biggest differences from GP2 is the complexity of your work with the team,” he explained, “There's a lot more development, there's a lot more communication and you have to be more precise as a driver on that side. Also, from the atmosphere, there's media attention, there's more followers and everyone is looking more into detail and into everything. It's quite an interesting experience and something that is inclusive of being a F1 driver.”
Qualifying is also different to GP2, and is an area that Gutierrez has particularly struggled with, although he is quick to point out that, with a grid penalty hanging over him in Bahrain, Sauber didn't spend a lot of time working on his gameplan for Saturday afternoon.
“On Saturday morning, we decided to do a race simulation and this is not an ideal preparation for qualifying,” he reasoned, “We thought we could get some information for race performance. Of course, also [with] my driving, there are some little bits I need to improve, be more confident in the corners with the car that I have and get the most of the car.”