Esteban Gutierrez wants Sauber to adopt a more aggressive approach to qualifying to allow him to realize his potential in Formula 1.
The Mexican has yet to score a point during his rookie season and failed to escape Q1 for the eighth time in the previous race at Monza. But his underlying pace during recent race weekends has encouraged the team, leading head of trackside engineering Tom McCullough to suggest Gutierrez was in a position to start outqualifying highly rated teammate Nico Hulkenberg.
“In qualifying, we’ve not been aggressive enough with strategy,” said Gutierrez. “Considering I’m a rookie, the mentality is probably to give me a bit more chance, maybe a few more laps and be a bit more conservative by going earlier on in the sessions.
“This is affecting me because we are not [qualifying] in the peak time of the track and track conditions and at the same time you have more fuel load. It’s a combination of both because knowing that I have three, four flying laps I don’t get the most out of the tires in the beginning. Most of the strategies in qualifying will be focused on maximizing that part [being more aggressive] and being more on the edge of strategy.”
Gutierrez accepts that this approach leaves him more open to making mistakes. But he believes that while it is difficult for rookies to master qualifying, he needs to risk errors to make the step forward he has, at times, shown the speed to produce.
“Probably in some moments I will make some mistakes, you know it’s going to be part of the process but I amkeen to make the next step,” he says. “It’s now time to because if I go out in qualifying and make no mistakes and I’m just not quick enough, I would prefer to make a mistake and know that I could be quick.”
Gutierrez is confident that this approach will allow him to harness the speed he has shown in practice, particularly in the previous two grands prix in Belgium and Italy.
“The pace has been very good in practice and in the races as well, it’s just a matter of finding the solution to qualifying. This is my main focus because obviously it is not fun if you are qualifying 19th or 15th when you have the speed to be around P10.”