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Rookie diary - Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez 03 Apr 2013

Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32 locks up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 (L to R): Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber, Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 The car of Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32 is recovered after crashing in Q1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez is the youngest of the five rookie drivers on the 2013 Formula One grid. In the latest of our series charting the personal and professional progress of this year’s F1 newcomers, the 21-year-old Mexican reflects on his promising start to the season and what it feels like to rub shoulders with Sebastian Vettel on the drivers’ parade…

“The experience of my first Grand Prix was better than I had expected in my wildest dreams. As a Formula One driver you can focus on many things around the car - not only the driving but also the strategy and a very complex set-up on the car. You have lots of options on the car and that is very interesting from a driver’s point of view.

“You learn a lot on your first weekend. I wouldn’t say that your life has been taken over - with the schedule your team puts in place for you, your life is a bit easier than in other series - but, of course, it is busier.

“My first ever qualifying session was tricky but at the same time it was an adventure. When you have such extreme conditions - where you are always changing between full wet tyres and intermediates - it makes it very interesting. After many crazy qualifying sessions in GP2 - and believe me, you are confronted with crazy situations all the time in GP2 - it was a bit ironic that my first ever F1 qualifying session was the continuation of my GP2 experiences!

“I definitely expected more than to go out in Q1. I think we had good pace and in the wet we’ve been in quite good shape - good enough to be in Q2 I would say - but at the end of Q1 I had only one shot at setting a good time on intermediates and I made a mistake.

“I tried to be very natural on my first drivers’ parade, even though I was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. If it distracts you, that can’t be positive - in the end you want to beat those guys one day! So I tried to make it feel natural, as it will be my environment from now on. I wasn’t nervous at all, but at the same time, being there was a personal achievement.

“When I was sat on the grid in Melbourne I was just living the moment. I was trying to keep my emotions very stable and simply not getting carried away. To be honest the emotions came after the race. I sat down thinking ‘Wow, now I can say that I have finished my first Formula One race’. It’s something that I’d worked so hard to achieve.

“I think it is important to consider that it was my first race - so it was important to live the whole experience in a very focused way in order to extract the maximum amount of information for the future. One of the things that keeps me very motivated and gives me confidence is that it is easier to fix a small mistake - like I did in qualifying - than it would be to fix the fact of not being quick enough. So I took a lot positives from my ‘first day’ and the focus is clearly on moving forward.

“I’ve learnt already that strategy is a key factor in delivering a good result - not only the team strategy but also the strategy from me, the driver. You have to learn to ‘read’ the evolution of the car and the tyres during a race. That is something that comes with experience as you have to consider every different variable. To cope with that without any references was pretty tough, but with every race and with every bit of experience it will get easier. If you fully understand your environment, life gets much easier!

“In terms of racing, my first race was just like any other race. Of course the level is higher in F1 and, yes, you can feel it physically, but at the same time everybody is more professional and that has a huge influence on how you compete. Doing something stupid is the exception - not the rule! My aim was to stay very natural and that is probably the reason why I was able to feel the same way as I have in the hundred or so races I’ve done in other kinds of car in the past.

“What is significantly different in F1 is that the feedback you give to your team matters more - the more precise you are, the better. Another thing that differs from other categories is that there is much more interest from the media and you have to be more delicate with what you say. You learn to weight your words correctly.

“After the first race in Melbourne I had a clearer picture of what will come my way - the feeling of how a race unfolds, how the car evolves during the race, and a better feeling and understanding of strategy.

“My result - 13th and the highest placed rookie - put a smile on my face. My paramount goal was to finish the race and that was accomplished in a very good way. Now that I have ticked this box I look forward to the next step - to score points.”

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