Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez will be making his Formula One debut as a full-time driver next season without knowing if he is really up for the task.
The 21-year-old Gutierrez was announced as Sauber’s driver for 2013 on Friday, becoming the second Mexican to secure a place in F1 next season, along with new McLaren pilot Sergio Perez.
“To be honest, I don’t know if I’m ready yet,” Gutierrez said.
“It’s difficult to judge right now how ready I am. But definitely I’m doing my best and I’ve been using all the time I have on the track to improve my knowledge of the car. It will be very interesting”
Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez
“It’s difficult to judge right now how ready I am. But definitely I’m doing my best and I’ve been using all the time I have on the track to improve my knowledge of the car. It will be very interesting.”
The young Mexican has worked with Sauber for a few years and was its F1 test and reserve driver for the last two seasons.
He raced at the lower-tiered GP2 series in 2011 and 2012, winning three times and ending third in the points this year.
“When I become a Formula One driver next season I’m going to know if I was ready or not,” he said.
“But definitely I feel that I’m comfortable with this next step in my career.”
He said being consistent will be his priority in his first full year in F1.
“It’s important to take this in a very realistic way,” he said.
“Of course I’m going to try to adapt as quickly as possible. One of the mains goals is to try to be consistent. It has to be step by step and adapting, in the beginning will be very important. I’m totally aware that competition in Formula One is not easy.”
Youth and experience
Gutierrez will drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg of Germany in a new lineup for the Switzerland-based team next season.
“Nico is a very experienced driver and knowing that he will be my teammate is great,” Gutierrez said.
“As a rookie it’s important to have a reference.”
Just like Perez, who is making his final race at Sauber, Gutierrez will continue to bring to Sauber the financial support of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.
“Carlos is not only supporting economically, he is passionate about racing,” Gutierrez said.
“This is the best support you can get.”
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the team has planned to eventually promote Gutierrez to a full-time seat since he was signed in 2010.
“Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely,” Kaltenborn said.
“We mapped out his path to Formula One step by step. Esteban has great talent and now he’s ready to take the leap. We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season with Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.”
With Perez and Hulkenberg secure for the 2013 season, Kamui Kobayashi ended losing his job at Sauber.