Singapore qualifying star Esteban Gutierrez says 'more aggressive' approach paid off
Mexican confident of strong race from career-best tenth on grid
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 21/09/13 5:41pm
Esteban Gutierrez credited his standout performance in Singapore GP qualifying to a change in approach after the Mexican rookie made Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
The 22-year-old former GP3 champion has struggled to make an impression in his debut season of F1 having failed to score a point in his first 12 attempts and up until Saturday not outqualifying experienced team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
However, that latter statistic suddenly changed in Q2 as out-of-the-blue the Mexican hauled his Sauber above the cut line while Hulkenberg could manage only 11th place, before opting to save tyres in the final shootout and settle for tenth on the grid.
"This could make a big, big difference to him mentally and mean he can perform like that more often."
Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert on Esteban Gutierrez
Asked by Sky Sports F1 where that level of performance had come from, Gutierrez revealed that Sauber had put him through some more intense qualifying-style drills during practice in a bid to get him to extract more from the tyres.
"Well, to have a more aggressive strategy first of all, as well as all the exercises we've been doing through the practice sessions," the rookie explained.
"This obviously made me make some mistakes in certain optimum laps in practice, but it was the only way to feel that edge and putting some pressure on that side to be there and extracting the maximum of the tyres.
"It's a great feeling to know we have to find a solution to that. I have to take this feeling and memory in to this lap, which was amazing, to keep improving further for the future."
Gutierrez has hitherto only qualified in the top 15 on the grid on three occasions, although pointing to stronger relative race pace, the Mexican has never finished in a lower position than where he started on each occasion he has made the chequered flag.
Therefore given he will now start from up on the fifth row on Sunday, the youngster reckons his chances of a strong race result have been firmly opened up.
"To be honest, with the races we have been doing previously it has been [going] very well," Gutierrez suggested.
"Our pace has been great in the races, we were able to fight for positions but we were just missing starting in a better position. Now starting in P10 it will be a huge difference for us and we will try to maximise every part of it."