Esteban Gutierrez remains scoreless in his rookie F1 campaign, but it was not for want of trying at the Korean Grand Prix.
The Mexican, who started inside the top ten for the second race in succession, was a threat for points throughout the 55-lap encounter, but crossed the line just a scant 0.8secs shy of countryman Sergio Perez when it mattered. Gutierrez later pointed to the chaos at turn three on the opening lap – when Felipe Massa spun in his Ferrari, scattering the pack behind – as having compromised his afternoon.
“I had a very good start, then I arrived at turn three and saw what was going on,” the rookie revealed, “I tried to protect my position, but my rears locked and that's why I lost a couple of positions.
“To recover from that was quite a challenge. I had some good fights with Massa and 'Checo' coming from the back and, of course, I wanted to score points today, but this is racing. It's a great experience and will help me to improve my race craft. We had good pace today and are definitely able to fight in the top ten.”
“Esteban had a great start and turn one, but was unlucky into turn three, losing track positions due to other peoples' mistakes,” head of track engineering Tom McCullough confirmed, “From that point on he came very close to scoring his first points, so can take a lot of positives from this race.”
For team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who admits that Sauber went into the race with 'high expectations', Gutierrez's result, while disappointing, helped confirm the progress the Swiss squad has made in recent weeks.
“I am very relieved we were able to keep up our level of performance throughout the whole weekend,” she commented, “We went into the race with high expectations and it is a great feeling that we were able to meet these through our own strengths.
“Nico [Hulkenberg] put in a superb performance and, once again, great fight, as it definitely was not easy to keep those cars behind him [ see separate story
], while Esteban had a difficult start, so struggled a bit more. However, all in all, it is a great step ahead for the entire team and shows we are working well together at home in Hinwil and on the track.”