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Chinese Grand Prix 2013: Gutierrez apologises to Sutil for crash
14 April 2013
Nico Hülkenberg started the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix in tenth place on the grid, and that's where he finished a little over an hour and a half later. But it was an eventful time in between the the Sauber driver and for his team mate Esteban Gutiérrez.
Hülkenberg got off to a good start in Shanghai, and then scrapped with the Force India of former team mate Paul di Resta which ended up with the Scot going off onto the grass. Eventually his choice of medium options for the first stint of the race paid off with the race lead for eight laps when other cars starting on the options came in for early pit stops.
"I had a reasonable start and some nice battles in the first couple of laps. I was able to gain some positions," he said. "It was obviously very nice to be leading again, and to be at the front battling with the top teams.
Unfortunately it didn't last, and in the latter half of the race - which included a brief seven-lap stint on the options following the second of his three pit stops - the Sauber simply didn't have the raw speed that Hülkenberg needed. "Somehow towards the end of the race, we were losing or lacking a little bit of pace," he conceded.
"Once you are in the lead or second you understandably hope for more," he continued. "Nevertheless, it might not have been the true picture, as we were racing out of sequence with other people who were starting on soft tyres. But anyway, it was quite a good race."
Sauber's team principal Monisha Kaltenborn shared her driver's frustration at the outcome of the Shanghai race. "We are somewhat disappointed with the result, because, based on how the race went for Nico, we feel we could have achieved more. We have to investigate why the performance was not as expected in the final stint."
Meanwhile his team mate's race in China lasted only four laps before a mistake by the 21-year-old Mexican in his first season of F1 ended up wrecking his car - and that of Adrian Sutil.
"At that point in the race when the accident happened, we had a reasonable speed and were able to keep the pace in order to stay with the group in front," recalled Gutiérrez. "Right before going into the long straight I had [Sergio Perez] fighting behind me, and I approached the corner too fast.
"I was braking at the same place where I usually brake [but] didn't anticipate the loss of downforce and the amount of speed I had," he continued. "I tried my best to stop, but didn't succeed.
"It was definitely my fault, and I apologise to Adrian and to his team," he said contritely. "It's not a good feeling to finish a race like this."
Nor is it a good feeling knowing that he will head into next weekend's race in Bahrain with a five-place grid penalty to serve at the start. But Gutiérrez was trying to put such thoughts aide for now and find some positives to build his confidence ahead of the short turnaround between Shanghai and Sakhir.
"We have something to encourage us to keep going and to keep pushing," he said. "We had a good pace, and let's keep moving forward."
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