While one side of the Haas F1 Team garage is basking in glory, the other side is enduring a much more torrid time as Esteban Gutierrez has attracted all the bad luck since the team made it’s celebrated debut in Formula 1, despite this the Mexican is upbeat and confident things will improve for him. He spoke ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
You had much more running time at Bahrain in the lead up to the race compared to Australia, where rain hampered practice. How beneficial was the consistent running time you had in Bahrain on Friday and Saturday?
Esteban Gutierrez: “It has been a great benefit because we had the opportunity to explore and learn more from the car setup-wise. From Barcelona and Australia, we didn’t really have time or the chance to experiment a lot. Running consistently in practice in Bahrain helped us to develop the car and develop the setup of the car, so it will be very helpful for the next grand prix.”
For the first time in Haas F1 Team’s young history, both you and your teammate advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team, but also for you?
EG: “For the team it’s a huge boost of moral, because we can show our true speed in qualifying and also in the race, which is the best combination to have. We still have a lot of work to do in order to extract the maximum from our performance, but we are on the way to develop that. It’s a huge boost to my motivation because learning that I can be comfortable driving the car on the limit means a lot. I can really enjoy and push the limits quite a lot.”
Your race in Bahrain was cut short due to a mechanical problem. While disappointing, how do you shake off that disappointment and prepare for the next opportunity in China?
EG: “I have the feeling that good times are just around the corner for us to get underway with scoring points consistently. We’ve had a good pace and a good car at two different tracks. I’m just going to keep preparing, keep pushing and keep fighting the same way because soon, the results will be there.”
During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?
EG: “The different compounds are directly affecting the car’s balance, and our tire selection seems to be quite good. I feel very confident in our strategy, and I’m involved in the planning and execution. We are working in a very good way, and we’re able to react quickly to any circumstances that might come during the race.”
Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?
EG: “It is true that we have surprised many people. It’s a situation that probably we didn’t expect – to be that good. We still need to manage our expectations because our car at the moment has reacted pretty well in Melbourne and in Bahrain, but we need to learn how it will react now in China. I think China will give us a good indication of how the season will be, and also the fact that all the other teams are pushing really hard to develop their car during the season. And as the season advances, it will get more and more competitive, so we need to be ready for that. We can still extract more speed and performance from our car, and China gives us an opportunity to do just that.”
Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.
EG: “Shanghai is a very front-limited track, which puts a lot of front load into the tires. Turn one is very fast and a very long corner – one which is very different to other corners of the season. It’s quite iconic to Shanghai. You arrive full speed, and when you enter into the corner, you have to wait very long into turn two. You have turn three, which has a very long exit, and it’s quite tricky on traction as you put a lot of lateral on the exit. You go through turns four and five, which is a very high-speed section, and then into turn six and seven, one of my favorite parts of the track. You really come into turn six with full speed and then change direction into turn seven. You have to prepare for turns eight and nine because this sequence is very important not to lose the rhythm. Then getting into turn 10, it’s a small 90 degree corner which exits to a very, very long straight into turn 11, which is the beginning of a very long corner. You go from very low speed to increasing the speed through the corner, and it’s a part of the circuit where it’s easy to hurt the front tires. It’s an important part of the circuit when it comes to the car’s race setup. Then one of the longest straights of the season is the backstraight, were you’re at maximum speed. You arrive into a very high-braking corner – the hairpin turn 14. Then the last corner is 90 degrees – a medium-speed corner –which is quite tricky on the exit because you have the curb which you can use quite a lot but, obviously, it has its limits. You’re always trying to maximize the track. It’s quite challenging.”