Gutierrez plays down link to Carlos Slim

Esteban Gutierrez has denied he was given the news about his F1 debut this year straight from the mouth of Carlos Slim.

21-year-old Mexican Gutierrez is replacing Sauber’s McLaren-bound Sergio Perez, presumably to keep the Swiss team’s main backer Telmex happy. Telmex is the Mexican company headed by billionaire Carlos Slim, whose son and namesake is directly involved in the handling of Perez’s career. But it’s a slightly different situation for Gutierrez.

Asked if Slim told him he would be stepping up from the reserve role after three years to finally race for Sauber in 2013, Gutierrez said: “No. I have had a contract for four years with Sauber.

“My deal is with them,” he insisted to Spain’s El Confidential. “Obviously, the relationship with Carlos is very close because they are my sponsors, but unlike Checo (Perez) they have not been my managers.

“We have always worked with them as a sponsor, and they have been very supportive, but I have my relationship with Sauber and a programme that has been developed over time with them,” added Gutierrez.


Gutierrez expects Hulkenberg to beat him early in 2013

Esteban Gutierrez is expecting his Sauber teammate to outpace him early in 2013.

A test driver for the Swiss team since 2010, the 21-year-old Mexican has finally moved into the race cockpit this year, as his Telmex-backed countryman Sergio Perez moves to McLaren.

Team founder Peter Sauber admitted earlier this month that he would like Gutierrez to match the more experienced Nico Hulkenberg “right from the beginning” in 2013.

Gutierrez said: “He has three years of experience, and I cannot compare with that, but for me he is definitely a great reference. I will use the opportunity to adapt quickly and be at his level this season, but just not right at the beginning,” he told the Spanish newspaper Marca in an interview.


Gutierrez: Teams will adapt to new tyres

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber’s new race driver, has given a less dramatic assessment of the tyre situation heading into the 2013 season.

Last season dubbed ‘the tyre whisperer’, Mexican Perez has subsequently switched to McLaren, where last week at Barcelona he said the degradation of Pirelli’s new compounds is “extreme”.

Back at Sauber, however, fellow Mexican Gutierrez is less panicked.

“The tyre (situation) is obviously more dramatic than last year,” he is quoted by Spain’s Marca newspaper, “but gradually the teams will adapt. It’s a matter of finding the right fit. In testing we have already seen progress,” the 21-year-old added.

Even Perez’s teammate Jenson Button is not overly worried.

“This year is more difficult in terms of graining,” he is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace, “but it’s much easier now to understand the tyre. You put it in your window of operation and know that it will begin to grain from the third or fourth lap.

“Last year,” Button continued, “there were teams who could make the tyre work, but they didn’t know why. For the others it was a knife edge.”

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery, meanwhile, is adamant the cool weather in Barcelona – “freezing” last Friday according to Mark Webber – made the degradation of the 2013 tyres look much worse.

“We shouldn’t see anything like it (the Barcelona weather) in the whole season,” he is quoted by Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo.

And some, like the famously phlegmatic Kimi Raikkonen, are not worried at all.

Asked to compare the 2012 Pirellis with this year’s compounds, the Finn told Turun Sanomat newspaper in Russia on Saturday: “I don’t see much difference.”


Gutierrez: Lotus & Red Bull will fight for 2013 title

After spending some time from an elevated trackside vantage point in Barcelona last week, Esteban Gutierrez has tipped Red Bull and Lotus to fight for the 2013 title.

“I was out on track and had a look at a couple of the corners,” the rookie Sauber racer is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “I was surprised by how different the cars are. I think Red Bull is in a very good position, which can be seen easily from the outside.

“The Red Bull and the Lotus are the most stable,” he continued, according to Italy’s Tuttosport. “They will fight for the title this season.

“I was very impressed with the Lotus in the cornering,” the 21-year-old continued. “It has incredible grip, far more than the others, not moving around at all.

“The Red Bull is also very smooth, with no uncertainty in the trajectory, very well balanced and very good at the front end.”

In Switzerland’s Blick, veteran correspondent Roger Benoit compiled the first tentative pecking-order list for 2013, with Red Bull and Lotus in first and second places. Third is McLaren, ahead of Ferrari, Mercedes and Sauber.

Mark Webber told reporters on Friday: “We are in a good position to be strong in Melbourne, as you would expect from a team that has had our results in the past few years.”

World champion Sebastian Vettel is also happy.

“It’s true that I only felt comfortable in the car in the second half of last season,” he is quoted by Sport Bild. “It’s also true that the handling of the new car is very similar.”

After testing the impressive black and red E21 in Spain, Raikkonen headed to Moscow for a demonstration ice race.

“I can’t promise that we are going to be able to fight for wins,” the Finn told R-Sport, “but I think we will be up there and we will have ourselves a chance at least.”


Sauber wants Gutierrez to match Hulkenberg

Peter Sauber has declared himself happy with 2013 team racer Esteban Gutierrez, following the Mexican rookie’s first test of the pre-season at Jerez.

“Last year we were not entirely satisfied with his performance in GP2,” the Swiss team’s founder, co-owner and former boss told Motorsport Aktuell.

“Sometimes we were even disappointed, so we didn’t know exactly what we could expect from him,” added Sauber.

21-year-old Gutierrez, third in last year’s GP2 standings, has replaced the McLaren-bound Sergio Perez, ostensibly to keep major team backer Telmex happy.

So what is Sauber expecting from the youngster?

“I would prefer, of course, if he could go at Hulkenberg’s level right from the beginning,” said Peter Sauber.


Sauber confirms Gutierrez for 2013 season

Sauber have confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg’s teammate for 2013 will be Esteban Gutierrez, who will replace Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi.

“This has not been an easy decision for us to take,” team boss Monisha Kaltenborn explained, “but we have committed ourselves to a new beginning.”

21-year-old Mexican Gutierrez, who is backed by Sauber’s major sponsor Telmex, also succeeds the similarly Telmex-sponsored Sergio Perez, who has been signed by McLaren.

“We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season,” said team boss Monisha Kaltenborn.

Replacing Gutierrez as Sauber’s reserve driver is the impressive Dutchman Robin Frijns, who like Gutierrez is 21.

Referring to Frijns, who won the Formula Renault 3.5 series this year as a rookie, Kaltenborn said: “We will now carefully guide him to Formula One.”


Slim ‘quite sure’ Gutierrez to race Sauber in 2013

If Sauber’s biggest sponsor has its way, Esteban Gutierrez will next year line up on the grid alongside confirmed 2013 driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Gutierrez’s fellow Mexican Sergio Perez, who is heading to McLaren, was until now the cream of Sauber backer Telmex’s F1 programme for the last two years. But waiting in the wings all the time has been the one-year-younger Mexican reserve driver Gutierrez, who is this week testing Sauber’s C31 in Abu Dhabi, as is another 2013 candidate, the highly-rated Robin Frijns.

Telmex chief and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, however, could have a substantial influence on the final decision.

“We are talking with Sauber for next season,” he told the Mexican newspaper Reforma, “and we intend to continue together. Obviously that will be with the participation of a Mexican driver, which is Esteban Gutierrez,” Slim Domit insisted.

Gutierrez, 21, got his first taste of official F1 action recently in India, when Perez was suffering from a heavy cold and sat out a practice session.

“It would not be that the team gives him a practice event in formula one if they have no long-term plan for him,” Slim continued. “And for us, we would not have our participation in Formula One without a Mexican driver, so I think it is quite sure that for the first time next year, we will have two Mexican drivers in formula one for a full season,” he added.