Esteban Gutiérrez was issued with a post-race 20-second time penalty following his late-race contact with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean during Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Sauber driver was battling with the Frenchman for sixteenth place in the final stages of the race and swerved into the Lotus driver’s path under braking for the first chicane. The pair made contact – Gutiérrez’s right rear tyre tagged Grosjean’s left barge board – which gave the Mexican suffered a puncture.
It later emerged in a post-race Stewards’ hearing that Gutiérrez was suffering from braking issues, but they still deemed him at fault for the incident. He was subsequently issued the time penalty, which dropped him to 20th and last place in the final classification.
“It was a really tough race. From the beginning on I struggled to get the hard tyres to work. We changed the strategy immediately, and I think that was a good decision. Back on track I was able to overtake a few cars, but that was it. We lost a lot of time with the incident I had towards the end of the race. Now, I need to look forward and concentrate on the next races,” Gutiérrez said afterwards.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn echoed the stewards’ decision in her post-race comments.
“It was a difficult weekend that ended as we expected it would. Under the circumstances the team worked well, even though we have some room for improvement with the consistency of the pit stops. The contact which Esteban had with a competitor was unnecessary,” she said.
Teammate Adrian Sutil finished fifteenth and blamed a lack of speed for another zero on the Swiss team’s scoreboard.
“It was not a spectacular race for me. We were easily able to finish the race with a one stop strategy. Generally we were too slow today, that is why I could not finish better than 15th. The team worked well and we did not make any mistakes. We still have to continue working on the car in order to improve our performance,” he added.
The Hinwil squad now resets for the final six flyaway rounds, and remain hopeful of breaking their points’ duck in the worst year in its history.
“It was clear that under normal circumstances it would be extremely difficult to make up positions. We, therefore, decided to choose a tyre strategy which was meant to give us an advantage if some unexpected things happened. However, in the end this didn’t pay off,” Sauber’s head of track engineering, Giampaolo Dall’Ara, added.
“Esteban struggled to get the hard tyres to work, therefore, we switched to a two-stop strategy. But in the race we were simply not fast enough. It looks as if we are stronger in qualifying, but then are losing ground to our competitors with our race settings. The tracks that are now coming up need less power, which should help us.”
Images via FOM and XPB Images