Esteban Gutierrez says he is tentatively targeting top ten finishes during the early stages of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season as he prepares to return to the series with the new Haas F1 team.
After two race seasons with Sauber in 2013 and 2014, Gutierrez assumed a Ferrari reserve driver role last year in preparation for his return to F1 in 2016 with Haas, which will make its much anticipated track debut at the first pre-season test on February 22nd.
Though entirely new entries have traditionally struggled to make immediate impressions on the establishment, Haas' close relationship with Ferrari from a technical perspective has raised suggestion amongst rivals that it could spring a surprise from the off.
Whilst Haas itself has moved to play down those expectations, it has set itself the target of regular points in its first year, an objective that Gutierrez feels is entirely possible from the off.
“That is our target, from the beginning,” he told USA Today
. “We want to be there. Obviously, we want to be careful on our expectations. We're working hard to be prepared with the best car possible, but we will not know until the first test.
“From the perspective of a being new team, (scoring points) is an ambitious challenge. But we're here to compete. I think we have done things pretty well so far from team preparation and we want to target that.”
A former GP3 Series title winner, Mexican driver Gutierrez – who will be paired with Romain Grosjean - endured a difficult pair of seasons with Sauber, scoring just once in 2013 – with a single seventh place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix -, while neither he nor Adrian Sutil could get the Swiss team on the board in 2014.