But despite his troubles, Gutierrez remains positive, and as he tells us in this exclusive interview, he can’t wait to race in front of a large contingent of Mexican fans this weekend in Austin…
Q: Esteban, it must have been a difficult season for you so far. Can you share your thoughts about the past eight months?
Esteban Gutierrez: Yep, it’s been a quite frustrating season so far - let’s put it that way. On the other hand, I must say that there are many good things to take from it because I have been fighting a lot together with the team - and I want to see that as a positive learning for the future. Together we have been working so hard to make things better, and to have that kind of experience of fighting with your back to the wall should be of value for a driver. I love to see myself as a person who always takes the positive side from everything! (laughs)
Q: Everybody who is not sitting in a Mercedes-powered car is having a hard time - but the Sauber seems to be extra difficult to drive. Can you describe how it feels in your work place?
EG: Oh yes, it was a very difficult place at the beginning of the season - but we have been able to improve it. It feels good that we have the patience - and also the focus - to put away any frustration or pressure and make the best out of it. Right now I can say that the car is driving very well. Obviously we are still missing overall performance, but we have managed to make the car as consistent as possible which has been quite successful. Sadly this is not shown to the outside world, but internally we know what we have achieved - and we will be pushing until the very last lap of the very last race.
Q: When you say that the car is lacking performance, how much is that attributed to the power train and how much to the chassis?
EG: It’s hard to point out one problem…
Q: Would more horsepower do the trick - or a better aero package?
EG: We know that with the power train we have quite a disadvantage - that is something that we cannot hide - but at the same time we have the reference of Ferrari. So to be fair I would say that it is a 50/50 matter between power train and car. For sure our car is not as bad as it looks from the results. When we look at the data we can see that we are very close to Force India or even sometimes Williams with the corner speed - but we do lose on other sides. So I hope that in the future we can improve on both sides.
Q: The Slim family has supported you for a long time - how disappointed are they that their protégée has no chance to do better?
EG: Everybody is disappointed with how the season started and also how the results have been so far. This is natural. But that doesn’t mean that we have taken out the focus for the future. Once you fall into such a situation we all know that we should support each other more than if you are on a high. We do have a great relationship between us and I am really thankful for all the support they have been giving me throughout my career and especially now to try and continue for a great future together.
Q: In your rookie season, in 2013, it was a bit difficult at Sauber, but this year neither you nor the team has scored any points and there are only three races left. Are you alarmed about your future?
EG: It is dangerous - of course - as we all know that competition is not only happening on the track - it’s everywhere! Thankfully I have some experience now under my belt and I’ll try to use it as much as I can to stay calm and get the most out of the present. Whatever comes in the future, I will face it in very positive way and try to be successful anywhere I am.
Q: There will be a Mexican Grand Prix in 2015 and right now there are two Mexican drivers on the grid - you and Sergio Perez - but neither is confirmed for next year. How much disappointment would there be next year having no home driver on the grid?
EG: That will not happen! We have to be confident that everything will be fine. Checo (Sergio Perez) has had a good season and I am sure that he will be confirmed soon; and on my side, I am trying very hard to consolidate my situation for next year.
Q: What is the state of affairs in your negotiations with the Sauber team - or any other team? When will there be news?
EG: I think in the next three weeks we will know what will happen with me. Nothing in life is guaranteed - and that goes even more so for Formula One! It is always a challenge. I can say that I have fought very hard this season, so from that side I feel powerful and hopeful for the future. I hope we can continue to reach the big goals that we have, and to reach them from our situation means that you have to be very patient and have a proper plan for the immediate and long-term future.
Q: There is a lot of talk about the possibility of three-car teams at the moment. Would that present a good opportunity for somebody like you?
EG: Yes, of course!
Q: Is that what you are hoping for?
EG: Yes, but we also have to be realistic and not only hope for that. But I am always open to anything and will always fight with the same approach. I want to be successful.
Q: Regardless of the result, there will be a huge Mexican crowd here to cheer for you. Does that help - at least a bit?
EG: Yes, definitely. It is an extra value. It makes a difference in how you are coming into the weekend. You get a lot of energy out of the fact that you see fans cheering and waving flags at you when you do your laps. So I promise to make the absolute best out of my race on Sunday - for all the Mexican fans who have come to support me.