Sauber kept the faith with Esteban Gutierrez who turned his rookie season around after a troubled start early last year, and the Mexican knows he has to deliver to continue racing the pinnacle of motor sport. He spoke on the day his team revealed the Sauber C33 to the world.
The start of the 2014 Formula 1 season is approaching. Is the adrenaline pumping yet?
Esteban Gutiérrez: “Yes, definitely. The adrenaline is pumping a lot. I’m really excited about the start of the next season. It’s going to be an adventure with the new car and the new regulations. I think this will make things very interesting. It takes everything to another exciting level for the whole team. It’s going to be a lot of work and stress to find out how to work things out, but at the end of the day this is what we love. It’s a challenge and we are here to live it.”
How did the winter preparations go, did you spend a lot of time in the factory?
Gutiérrez: “Yes, it was quite a late call with the team confirming me as a racing driver. Even through it was quite late, I spent some time in the factory in December before the announcement was made. I came in the beginning of January as well to do the seat fitting and to spend some time with the engineers. And now I’m back [at the factory] and this is something that brings me closer to what is happening inside the team, and keeps me in touch with the progress with the new car. This is also in order for me to understand step by step what’s happening with the new rules, because there are so many things. Even when I ask the engineers about things which are complex they need time to explain and I need to gain experience with everything during pre season testing.”
What are your expectations for the 2014 season?
Gutiérrez: “I want to become a leader for the team. This is my second year now as a racing driver in F1 and a lot of new things are coming up. I think that my involvement with the team is very important, so that we can meet our targets as a team. As a driver I want to take the next step. My approach now is different to last year and I’m really in full fighting mode with a lot of power. I prepared during the off-season and also analysed and evaluated everything that happened in my rookie season, so I can take that and turn it into a powerful asset this season.”
You have your own number now that will stick to you for the rest of your F1 career, why did you choose the number 21?
Gutiérrez: “The number 21 has always been my favourite number. I always chose it as a lucky number. It’s also the number of my age when I started F1, so it’s quite a special number for me. It was my first priority. We had to choose at least three, I chose 21 first of all and this is the one I got. I’m very pleased to have it and it’s a number that I am very happy to have for my whole F1 career.”
Tests involve a lot of hard work, especially this year with significant regulation changes. How do you prepare yourself?
Gutiérrez: “It’s important. Physically I had time to prepare a lot during the off season. Now that we are approaching the first test I have been in the factory a few days in December, a few days at the beginning of January and now again since mid January. Again, to get into the detail about what’s happening and discussing the progress with the engineers. At the same time, I had time to free my mind from the previous season, which was quite a long and very exiting one. Also to refresh myself and arrive at my second season as an F1 driver with an approach that meets the expectations we have in order to achieve our goals.”
You are entering your fourth year with the Sauber F1 Team, the second as a driver, but the cars are different every season. How long does it actually take to adjust to a new car?
Gutiérrez: “To adjust to the new car this year will be special, because there [are] quite a dramatic change in the regulations, which will mean different strategies, and from a driver’s point of view a difference in how to drive the car. This will take a lot of time and analysis to then properly apply things the way they should be. I think testing is going to be very important for this. Because, obviously, we want to arrive at the first race fully prepared and 100 percent adapted to our package, and then develop that further in the season. This is the evolution you need to have in a season in F1.”
How well do you know your new team-mate?
Gutiérrez: “I have known Adrian since I was racing in 2008 in Formula BMW. We have a friend in common, so I’ve often met him somewhere. Sometimes it happened by coincidence that we were having dinner with our friend. So, I’ve known him for some time now. But obviously now that we are going to work together in the same team it is going to be different, because I will get to know him better and also his way of working. And he is going to know my way of working and I think we can complement each other.”
What will be the greatest sporting challenge of the upcoming season?
Gutiérrez: “I think the greatest sporting challenge that I have this season is to adapt quickly to the regulation changes and to the new car, which will mean a lot of new things on the strategy. As a driver you have to get involved in the strategy in a very specific way. In my rookie season I sometimes found myself a little bit confused at the beginning, but throughout the season I got into the rhythm and understood things. Now it’s my second season and I think I can be more efficient and more involved.”
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