Esteban Gutierrez's task in the United States Grand Prix may have been more difficult by a penalty after qualifying

The Mexican was docked ten places for inadvertently blocking Williams rival Pastor Maldonado while attempting to warm his tyres in the opening phase of qualifying, and, having made it through to the top ten shootout, found himself 20th in the starting line-up at a circuit where passing is difficult.

In the aftermath of Maldonado's squabble with Adrian Sutil, Gutierrez was called to pit at the end of the opening lap, as the Sauber team opted to change his tyres under the safety car, putting him on the more durable hard compound and leaving him to complete 35 laps before switching back to the more racier medium.

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"Due to Esteban's grid position, we opted for a different strategy to allow him to attack at the end of the race," head of track engineering Tom McCullough explained, "He did some good overtaking manoeuvres and drove well today, but it was always going to be difficult to fight for points starting from 20th."

"It was a very tough race starting from P20," the driver confirmed, "We had to make up a lot of positions on track and I managed a good first lap, making up a couple of positions but, once the safety car was deployed, we decided to pit in order to put me on a different strategy to the other cars.

"We need to analyse the situation now and see how much we gained from that. I think, all in all, the problem came from the ten-place grid penalty, which made it complicated at the end."

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn insisted that she was happy with Gutierrez's performance, with 14th place not representative of his recent run of results.

"With Esteban, we opted for an unusual strategy, because of the difficulty due to his starting position, hoping he would be able to overtake a couple of cars at the end of the race," she noted, "Unfortunately, this didn't work out, but we can be happy with his performance."