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Rookie diary - Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez 27 Nov 2013

Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, 21 November 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 24 November 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber with his US Grand Prix helmet.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 20 September 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013

After a rather shaky start to his first year in Formula One racing, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez turned things around with some impressively mature and measured drives in the second half of the season. In the latest of our series charting the personal and professional progress of 2013’s F1 newcomers, the 22-year-old Mexican looks back on his debut campaign in motorsport’s premier category and discusses what the future holds…

“My first year in Formula One has been massively intense. The most interesting thing has been the challenge I’ve faced as a rookie, not only on the track, but also with the whole situation of the team. There has been so much speculation about the team and its financial situation - all that, in combination with me having to learn the ‘trade’ of F1, was pretty tough.

“But it’s also been positive for my development as a person and as a driver. This is what I appreciate most as it makes you stronger as a person. If you are able to change a situation from difficult to positive - and develop your skills along the way - that is pretty cool.

“To have scored points in my rookie season - and to finish as the rookie with the most points - represents something special. But at the same time it’s not in my mind that I am the best rookie because there is no such thing as a rookie championship. As a rookie you compare yourself to the other drivers - drivers who have spent years in the fast lane - and in this context scoring points is fantastic as it boosts your motivation.

“Of course the race in Suzuka (where Gutierrez finished seventh) was the highlight of my season. But what else would you expect than for my best moment to be the race in which I scored my first F1 points? It’s one of those magic moments and it was not just one point, but six! Other than that, Barcelona springs to my mind as a high point, then Korea - where I was strong in qualifying - and Abu Dhabi where I defended my position against Lewis Hamilton for many laps without making any mistakes.

“In Austin I had my best Friday of the season and made it into Q3 in qualifying before the penalty (for impeding). Austin was actually my favourite race this season. The track is a great combination of fast parts and technical parts, and the huge crowd was simply fantastic with a huge number of Mexicans there. That makes a difference - it gives you great energy and motivation. The United States was a very special race for me - the closest I have to a home Grand Prix.

“However, with hindsight I would say that Singapore was the place where it really started to ‘click’ for me with my first Q3 performance in qualifying. That was pretty emotional. The low points? Montreal and Monza. Maybe the venues starting with the letter M are jinxed!

“Are F1 cars difficult to drive? They are a bit, yes. They are very complex machines and you need to have a whole picture of the different tools that you have and use them to your own benefit. That is the really difficult part - using them to your own benefit.

“Of course, it was great to have Nico (Hulkenberg) as a reference for me in my rookie season. We get along very well and he is one of the best qualifiers and one of the best drivers out there. The occasions when I was at his level - and sometimes even in front - gave me a lot of confidence. And when I was not up to his level, that put me to work. I appreciated that a lot - being able to develop your skills is one of the most important things if you want to develop into a champion.

“How much of a weight on my mind is it that I don’t have a contract for next year yet? Well, once you get into Formula One you have to accept that it is a pretty unstable situation for most drivers. Maybe you have stability for the first three months - and the rest is a roller coaster ride. But that is something that you get used to and you should not combine what is happening around you with your performance.

“The bottom line is that I have big goals in F1 and I want to achieve them. I believe that with my race performances from Singapore onwards I have proved that I have the level to be in Formula One. So I am confident for my future. God will place things where they belong.

“Careers are very often instable and you have to bear that in mind. And if you are aware of that it also helps you to learn the value of other things in life. Life is bigger than Formula One. For a driver Formula One is, of course, very important - for me it includes everything that I love: the sport, the technical side, the engineering side, the business and the political side - but at the same time you have your family and you have friends - you have a life and you have to give huge value to all of the things that give you the chance to say: ‘I am not fully dependant on Formula One’.

“I have other things that I value, and you need to find the right balance between your F1 life and the private person that you are. My life would not collapse if F1 did not happen, but once you’re here, you have to go all in!

“Between now and January I will enhance my physical training, just like every other driver will. I want to reach another level of my physical condition with my preferred training regime: cycling. This will prepare me for next season.”

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