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Esteban Gutierrez - his F1 highs and lows

12 Feb 2016

After spending a year as Ferrari’s test and reserve driver, Esteban Gutierrez will return to the grid full-time with the brand-new Haas team in 2016. In anticipation we cast an eye over the more memorable moments of the Mexican’s F1 career to date, including a superb point-scoring drive in Japan and a spectacular run-in with Pastor Maldonado in Bahrain…
HIGH - Taking part in his first F1 session, India 2012

Having served nearly two full seasons as Sauber’s test and reserve driver, the Monterrey-born racer finally gets a chance to make his mark on the Grand Prix stage as he replaces unwell countryman Sergio Perez for FP1 in India. Despite having never driven the Swiss squad’s 2012 machine on track, Gutierrez acquits himself well, even if he eventually ends up 1.4s off team mate Kamui Kobayashi’s pace. 

LOW - Crashing out of his maiden qualifying session, Australia 2013

Having secured a race seat with Sauber for 2013, the former GP3 champion and GP2 racewinner is brought back down to earth with a (carbon fibre shattering) bump during his first ever F1 qualifying session as he loses control in wet conditions and prangs the barriers during Q1 at Albert Park.

HIGH - Making his F1 race debut, Australia 2013

After his costly error in qualifying, the then 21-year-old makes it his mission to simply reach the chequered flag in his debut race. He achieves his goal with a steady drive to 13th place, one place ahead of fellow rookie Valtteri Bottas but one lap down on race winner Kimi Raikkonen.

LOW - Wiping out Adrian Sutil, China 2013

Having fallen in Q1 for the second time in three races, Gutierrez blots his rookie copybook once more as he misjudges his speed approaching Shanghai’s hairpin on the fourth lap and spectacularly torpedoes Force India’s Adrian Sutil.  “I tried my best to stop, but didn't succeed,” the Mexican explains later. “It was definitely my fault…”

HIGH - Setting the fastest lap of the race, Spain 2013

A three-place grid penalty puts him on the back foot in Barcelona, but Gutierrez rises above the adversity to finish just three-tenths off a maiden points finish, all the while enjoying a brief cameo in the lead and setting the race’s fastest lap. 

LOW - Being flipped by Pastor Maldonado, Bahrain 2014

The Mexican’s world is (quite literally) turned upside-down in Bahrain as his Sauber is speared by an out-of-control Pastor Maldonado going into Turn 1.  Thankfully Gutierrez emerges from the spectacular flip - which earns Maldonado a five-place grid drop for the next race, a stop/go penalty and three points on his Super License - uninjured.

HIGH - Scoring his first F1 points, Japan 2013

Gutierrez finally breaks into the top ten with a tenacious drive at Suzuka in which he rises from 14th on the grid to seventh at the chequered flag, holding off no lesser driver than Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in the process. It remains his only points-scoring performance to date.

LOW - Spinning out of the points, Monaco 2014

In a dismally uncompetitive season for Sauber, the Mexican throws away a golden opportunity to get some points on the board at Monaco as he clouts the wall at Rascasse and spins out of eighth place. “It was probably the most painful mistake in my career,” he reveals later.

HIGH - Qualifying eighth on the grid, Korea 2013

After breaking into Q3 for the first time ever in Singapore, Gutierrez follows that up by qualifying eighth, just behind highly rated team mate Nico Hulkenberg, in Korea - his best grid slot to date. The Sauber man drops to 14th on a chaotic opening lap, but recovers solidly to finish less than a second outside the points in 11th.

LOW - Crashing into Pastor Maldonado, Britain 2014

After their high-profile clash in Bahrain earlier in the year, Gutierrez and Maldonado once again find themselves disputing the same bit of race track at Silverstone – though this time it’s the Venezuelan who goes flying and the Mexican who has the book thrown at him for being ‘predominantly to blame’ for the clash…