Just weeks after being dropped by Sauber and facing the daunting reality of an early end to his Formula 1 career, Esteban Gutierrez is now once again employed – and by one of the most famous names in motorsport, no less. Ferrari have snapped up the 23-year-old Mexican, who will be their reserve driver for 2015. Esteban has certainly made the best of a bad situation this winter.
The past two years have undoubtedly been underwhelming where Gutierrez is concerned. He only managed to score 6 points in his maiden season, compared with teammate Hulkenberg’s 51 and while he did narrowly beat Adrian Sutil across the course of this season, his 8-7 victory was far from convincing – particularly, since neither driver was able to score points.
However, Esteban has been thrown in at the deep end. In 2012, the Sauber C31 was a regular front-runner and in an admittedly unpredictable campaign, the team scored four podiums. Signposts therefore, suggested that Esteban would be supplied with ample machinery to demonstrate the full extent of his talents. Unfortunately for the team, the early half of 2014 was a case of regression and it was not until the mid-season tyre construction change, that both Gutierrez and indeed Hulkenberg, had the equipment to challenge for points. Ultimately, Nico enjoyed a far more fruitful end to the season than his rookie teammate, yet this was understandable – Esteban was still learning his trade.
In 2014, the combination of a thirsty powertrain and an unpredictable car has meant that the Mexican has had a tough time once again. With no points to show for his efforts, Gutierrez was ejected from the seat. However, Ferrari have acknowledged his potential and aged just 23, Esteban certainly has time to develop as a driver.
Newly appointed Team Principal and successor to Marco Mattiacci, Maruzio Arrivabene, has clearly acknowledged this. “We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to Esteban who, although young, has plenty of experience relating to the new generation of Formula 1 cars,” he said. “I am sure that, with his experience, he will make an important contribution to the development work of the team in the simulator.” This is a fascinating observation. Gutierrez can be considered as the perfect package for such a role – he is young and could be a potential Ferrari driver of the future, should he impress the team’s hierarchy, but he also has experience of driving an F1 car for two full seasons. Not just any F1 cars – Ferrari powered F1 cars. As such, he already has an in-depth knowledge of how the powertrain and technology itself functions and should be able to swim when dropped into Maranello’s simulator for the first time.
After facing their first year without a win since 1993, next season has to be better. Appointing Gutierrez appears to be a wise decision from Ferrari, in a year when development has to be high on the agenda.