Rookie diary - Saubers Esteban Gutierrez 27 Feb 2013
The 2013 grid is set to feature at least five drivers making their Formula One race debuts. In the first of a new series charting the personal as well as professional progress of this years F1 rookies, 21-year-old Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, Saubers reserve in 2011 and 2012, describes how his life has changed since he landed a race seat with the Swiss team, and how hes preparing for the coming season
Being announced as one of Saubers Formula One drivers was another step in my career and had a big influence not only on my lifestyle, but also on my mentality. It hasnt just involved me, but also my family.
With the recent pre-season tests, everything has moved into a much more active, physical situation: now everything is for real whereas in the weeks before it was more of a mind game. Things are developing and I am sure that after the first race the change will be even bigger.
A key moment for me was back at the last GP2 Series race of 2012 in Singapore. I knew that I needed to achieve a podium finish to secure third place in the championship. The weekend started well with third position on the grid - that was quite a thing because moments after I did my lap there was the red flag. Several times in my racing career Ive done a good lap in qualifying and just before crossing the finish line there has been a red flag and everything has been in vain. Luck was on my side this time and it meant a lot for my career. It was a moment that I will never forget as it made all this happen.
I try to put the pressure of being a Formula One driver to one side. Pressure always goes together with the expectations of the people around you who all want you to have good results. But the first person wanting to have good results is me - not only for myself, but for the whole team.
It has definitely helped that I have had the opportunity to be involved with Sauber over the last three years. It was a steady progression getting to know the team, but I wasnt just learning about them; little by little I was also learning about how everything works in Formula One. I experienced the atmosphere and got to witness how my fellow Mexican, Checo (Sergio Perez), was moving on. I had an exceptional look at it and was able to learn from it.
As for those nice little things that can make your life easier - the VIP bonus - Ive not experienced them yet. To be honest they are probably not so much about being a Formula One driver but about being famous - and that is still some distance away. Right now I am only thinking about what is directly involved, and that is that I have an incredible team behind me and that I have finally arrived at the top level of motorsport.
Since December I have had quite a few days in the factory, spending time with the engineers, preparing my seat and taking part in some marketing activities. The good thing is that now I can fully concentrate on one thing: Formula One. Before now my focus was on GP2 and my duty as the third driver. Ive also focused a lot more on training and taken a more professional approach to it. Part of this is down to the fact that I now have a much better structure for training and much more support.
Pre-season testing has been good. Ive been working for three years to be in this position so everything I do comes fairly naturally. Testing is all about the car and I want to give the best possible feedback to the engineers - concentration is key to this.
I actually feel quite established now and Ill do everything I can to be as best prepared as possible for my first race in Australia. Right now, near the end of the test season, I think that everybody wants to go out do some racing. I feel that everybody is so eager for competition - at least thats what I am feeling very strongly. The adrenalin, the challenges of qualifying and then my first time on the grid - I cant wait!
I have a new team mate for 2013 - Nico Hulkenberg. Nico has more experience than me and its my aim to catch up as soon as possible. I dont necessarily want to get his help - because, of course, he is looking for his own benefits, just as I am - but I consider him a very good reference. The main thing that I expect from him is that we work together as a team, that we will sit down and discuss issues with the engineers and always have the goal to get the best solution. So far - after only weeks together - I can say that the atmosphere is very positive and we have a very good basis for good things to come in 2013.
In terms of the upcoming season, I want to be consistent and, of course, I want to score points. I just have to be there if the chance comes up!
Formula1.com will bring you more exclusive insights from 2013s rookie drivers throughout the year.
For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.