Esteban Gutierrez has called taking on the task of converting a brand new F1 team and car into a competitive challenger in 2016 an honour and has reiterated the teams' goal of points finishes on its debut at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Mexican driver endured a tough learning curve with Haas during pre-season testing after completing the second-fewest number of laps of any driver at Barcelona but says the hurdles were expected for the first new F1 team since 2010 and is confident Haas covered enough miles to get a good understanding of its Ferrari-powered VF-16
Reflecting on where the team has come from its initial talks with owner Gene Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner last summer to making its final preparations for its F1 debut this weekend, Gutierrez says he is incredibly proud of his squad's efforts so far and says the car is already a joy to drive with a solid baseline setup.
“It's been a different experience to be part of the team integration from when the conversations,” Gutierrez said. “Obviously, I've always tried to give an input from my experience and to try to be part of what was going on with the development of the car: to be aware, to be close to the team, to be close to the designers so I could best prepare myself. It's a whole new adventure and it's an honor to be a part of it.
“I've had cars in the past which were difficult to fine tune in order to get a good feeling where you can anticipate, where you can push the car to the limit. The VF-16, straight away had a good feeling. As a baseline, that's always a good sign. It's a great car.”
If the Mexican is to achieve his goal of a points finish on debut for Haas then he will need to better his previous two outings at Albert Park from 2013 and 2014 with Sauber, with a best result of 12th two years ago.
With all teams running at their full potentials together for the first time this season, Gutierrez is naturally intrigued to understand where Haas slots into the F1 grid.
“First of all, we need to find out how competitive we are,” he said. “I hope we are as competitive and as good as the car feels, but we need to maximize and optimize what we have. Our target is clear – to achieve points. It is quite ambitious as a new team, but that's what we're targeting and we'll work very hard to achieve it.”