After a disappointing result last round in Monza, Esteban Gutierrez has high hopes ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. We sat down and had a chat with the Sauber driver and talked about the pit radio clampdown, the return of the Mexican Grand Prix and his future at Sauber.
Italy was a tough encounter as you ended up getting hit with a penalty post-race, what were your thoughts on that because you had a brake issue as well that led to your contact with Romain?
Yeah, I didn’t do it on purpose it was something that happened in the race and there was nothing else I could do. Obviously it was a very tough race from the beginning, we didn’t have the pace to have any kind of result and we also changed the strategy which didn’t benefit us, then encountered traffic from which I had to recover.
We knew that Spa and Monza were going to be tough because we depend a lot upon top speed and here we have better chances.
You have some new upgrades that are coming in, what do you feel like your prospects are for this weekend giving the nature of this circuit?
The car setup is really important here, we depend less on top speed than other tracks. It’s a track I enjoy a lot I like the configuration and it’s a place I like coming to as well because it’s spectacular to race here during the night. There are a lot of positives, the track is on our side hopefully and we want to take full advantage of it.
Do you look at this weekend as a lottery event? Is this the team’s best prospect of getting your first championship points this year?
Yes it is, it’s a good opportunity but at the same time it’s not something that’s easy and straightforward. You have to achieve something extraordinary to make it happen, to have good opportunities during the race and we have to make sure we take them.
How are you feeling about the changes to pit-to-car radio? How big of an impact do you feel this will have for you in terms of track running and how you communicate with your engineer?
Well the communication with the engineer will be reduced a lot during the race. It’s something I have no problem with, I like the idea and let’s see how it goes this weekend. It’s going to be interesting to see how the drivers are going to interact with their engineers.
Is it putting the focus more on the drivers in terms of what you are able to control yourself and you having to make your own decisions in terms of how you’re going to manage your race? Are you nervous about that or excited?
I’m really excited I’m not nervous about it; to be honest it’s something that can give better chances and open more opportunities as well.
Looking at your own performances and taking out the challenges of the car, how do you feel about your performances relative to last year and also in comparison to Adrian [Sutil]
Relative to last year I think I’ve improved a lot on my consistency, I also feel I made a good step forward in terms of qualifying performance which was my weak point last year, and that gives me a lot of confidence. With all these circumstances and situations that have come up it’s been kind of a frustrating year to be honest, because I make a step as a driver and then you have this situation which is very difficult and complicated and it’s not pleasant, but it’s something you need to cope with because it’s been quite a challenge this year.
In comparison to Adrian who has more experience under his belt are you satisfied with how you’re stacking up against someone of his experience and past results?
Yeah the competition is very high, we are very close every race and it’s something that brings up the level of the team somehow, and yeah I’m very pleased to have this kind of competition, to have a good teammate, a strong one, and to be able to challenge him.
Is the plan for you to stay with Sauber and to have that continuity into 2015?
That’s my priority but obviously I want to be in a good car. There has to be a good plan ahead and we’re in talks. I have a really good relationship with everybody here, I have been here for quite some time since my development and this is the team that gave me the opportunity to come into Formula 1. This year has been very difficult so we have to work together to improve for the next seasons. Hope it’s here, if not then in a better car next year.
You were a very baby—faced new boy when you arrived on the grid yourself, and we now have an even younger one in Max Verstappen joining the grid next year. What are your thoughts on a driver of his age and inexperience coming in?
I have nothing against the age, it’s more related to the experience, experience is really important in Formula 1, especially now with all these changes like the radio clampdown which adds another variable to the whole experience thing. So I have nothing against it and I wish him all the best, but let’s see how he will go next year.
Next year’s calendar is confirmed and Mexico is locked in so you must be very happy to have the prospect of being able to race on home soil.
Yes it’s going to be amazing, it’s another interesting step into the interests of Formula 1 in Mexico and I’m really looking forward to it. I had the chance to race there in 2008 and in that time I was dreaming of having a Formula 1 race and myself driving it. Now it’s a reality and it’s a dream come true for me and for a lot of people in Mexico and it’s going to be quite a surprise.
The track layout looks likely to be changed and Peraltada is going to be chopped literally in half, and that was such an iconic corner although when F1 last raced there you were only 1 year old. What are your thoughts in terms of the layout change that they need to make to the circuit?
Well obviously to live the Peraltada would have been great because it’s iconic, but then at the same time they’re going to put this corner into the stadium which is just before the Peraltada, and I think that section with around 40,000 people you will have amazing energy to that stadium. So it brings a positive rather than a negative by taking away the Peraltada.
We extend our sincere thanks to the Sauber F1 Team for making this interview possible.
Images via XPB Images