Gutierrez ready for biggest challenge yet
2 February 2013
Esteban Gutiérrez is already in the record books as a champion, having been the champion in the very first GP3 Series season in 2010. Even though he missed out on the equivalent GP2 title in the two years since, the 21-year-old Mexican has still been fast-tracked into the F1 Grand Prix paddock and now faces the biggest challenge of his career to date.
"We have very high expectations, and both of them know that," said Sauber F1 team principal Monisha Kaltenborn of her all-new driver line-up, which puts rookie Gutiérrez alongside three-season veteran Nico Hülkenberg. "We have two young, very fast and talented drivers ... I'm in no doubt that we have a strong driver pairing in place," she said.
“Esteban Gutiérrez's relationship with the team goes back to 2010, and we have introduced him steadily to the world of F1," she explained. "Now he is ready to take the final step. We expect him to learn quickly and turn his considerable talent into good results."
It's a tall order, especially as neither driver has had a chance to even get in the 2013 Sauber yet. Just seeing the new car up close in real life on Saturday was something of a thrill to Gutiérrez.
"It's very exciting to see the car here live. It's the second time," he said at the launch of the new C32-Ferrari at Hinwil in Switzerland. "It's very innovative," he added as he absorbed the darker new livery and the eye-catchingly slimmed-down sidepods.
But when pressed for his favourite part of the car he chose something of more immediate personal importance to him than livery or flatter sidepods. "The favourite element I would say is the seat, for me," he laughed. "It's what connects me to the car, so it's a great element!"
For all its stylish good looks, the proof of the success of the car won't come until Gutiérrez and his new team mate actually get it out on track next week, at the first pre-season test sessions to be held over four days at the Circuit de Jerez in Spain.
"In the beginning the most important task is to solve all the car's reliability issues so we can put in a lot of laps in the tests," he said. "The sidepods are quite good: we still don't know if it's the best solution, but we will prove it now in the test. We will see if this is to be right.
"Then, of course, another important factor is to get to know the car in race and qualifying conditions, which mainly comes with experience during the first races," he continued. "I'm really looking forward to testing it on track, first in the test - and then to race it!"
The lack of any available time in the car so far is not to say that Gutiérrez has been having an easy time of things since the end of the 2012 race season - quite the contrary.
"The winter preparations went really well," he said. "Apart from all my training back home, I also had the chance to spend very good days in Austria in December and January concentrating on my physical preparation, mainly based on winter sports like cross country skiing, climbing through the snow, etc."
And despite the obvious excitement of graduating to his dream job in F1, Gutiérrez insisted that nerves would not an issue.
"I think the most important challenge in F1 is to adapt to the whole psychological atmosphere of it," he said. "The challenge that I really want to achieve is to be consistent in a high competitive level - this is what I'm looking for," he summed up.