Esteban Gutierrez is a very early confirmed signing for the 2012 GP2 season, after announcing that he will remain with his current team Lotus ART in the first year of merged GP2/GP2 Asia competition.
"I'm happy to have our plans sorted for next season this early as it will give us a good amount of time to keep on going with our preparations for next year, with a good rhythm," said the 20-year-old racer from Monterrey in Mexico. "This has been an important decision for next season and we are looking forward to making the most of the opportunity to perform in a very competitive way."
Gutierrez claimed a win in his first season in GP2 when he claimed the chequered flag in the Valencia sprint race, but despite two further podium finishes only managed 13th place in the hotly contested driver's championship. His more experienced team mate for the year, Jules Bianchi, finished in third place.
"Esteban's involvement in the team's plans is rewarding on the sporting and human level and I am sincerely delighted that we will be able to continue the adventure together," said Lotus ART's team boss Frederic Vasseur. "I hope that the combined know-how of Lotus ART and Esteban will result in a synergy that both parties will be able to take advantage of in 2012."
After a season in Formula Three Euroseries in 2009, Gutierrez graduated to the feeder series after finishing as the first GP3 champion in 2010. He is currently test driver for the Sauber F1 team, and confirmed that he had received enquiries from other teams before deciding to stay with Lotus ART.
"I would like to thank all the other teams that expressed interest in having me on their team," he said, but added that he was sure Lotus ART was the right place for him for next season. "I feel very grateful to all the people in the team for their work and integrity which has been a key for acquiring the right experience as a driver ... I'm sure we will have great competition together keeping our good relationship."
Gutierrez will carry out testing for the team at the two-day session at Barcelona in October, but he is not available for this week's test at Jerez. Instead, the team will be giving runs to Finland's GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas and Formula Renault 3.5's Nathanaël Berthon.
Gutierrez will also lead Lotus ART's challenge in the GP2 Final race at Abu Dhabi in November.