Esteban Gutierrez says he's been surprised by the performance of new team Haas and how quickly he's adapted to life with the Ferrari-powered VF16 after a year out of action.

After losing his race seat at Sauber for 2015, Gutierrez spent the season as third and reserve driver at Ferrari behind Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel before making the switch to the new Haas F1 squad.

The Mexican made his driving debut for Haas on day two of the opening pre-season test in Barcelona and says he's thrilled with how the car felt fresh out the box. Gutierrez ended the day sixth on the timesheet with a best lap of 1m 25.524s after notching up 79 laps at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"I've been waiting for this moment for months. Overall a very positive feeling. We have a lot of work ahead but the baseline and everything seems to be good," Gutierrez said. "It is a very good base and the characteristics are very similar [to Ferrari].

"There are a lot of things on the new system which we really need to fine tune but at the moment we are focused on doing kilometres which is important to get the reliability issues out of the way.

"It has its own characteristics, not every car is the same, we have our own aero of development and so far I feel happy, it is a very good pace and better than I expected. I think we have some work to do mechanically to set the car up and get on our way."

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