Esteban Gutierrez says outdoing Sauber predecessor Sergio Perez is not his focus
F1 debutant also pleased to have Hulkenberg as team-mate
By James Galloway. Last Updated: February 14, 2013 11:37am
Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez says any comparisons with his countryman and Sauber predecessor Sergio Perez will not be something he focuses on during his debut season of Formula 1.
The 21-year-old is effectively following in the footsteps of Perez at Sauber this year, the now McLaren driver having made his own F1 debut with the Swiss team at the same age two years ago.
In addition to sharing the same nationality, Gutierrez, like Perez in 2011, arrives in F1 on the back of race-winning exploits in the GP2 Series and is also supported by his country's Telmex telecommunications group.
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But asked if the inevitability of comparisons with Perez's time at Sauber during the course of 2013 placed any additional pressure on him, the 21-year-old replied: "That's what a lot of many people may be saying around, but my focus is not that.
"My focus is to work on myself, to focus on the most important things and not to waste time only by beating one of the drivers.
"We all know that we are 22 drivers in Formula 1 and we don't need to waste the time only by competing [against] two of us. The fact that we are both Mexicans, it's a characteristic, we have to respect each other the same as we have to respect the other drivers. It's competitive."
While Perez partnered the more experienced Kamui Kobayashi in his two years at Sauber, Gutierrez will race alongside the highly-regarded Nico Hulkenberg in the new season, the German having moved from Force India over the winter.
Gutierrez admits he is delighted to have a driver of Hulkenberg's experience to learn from.
"For me it's a great reference," he said.
"He has three years of experience, two as a driver and one as a test driver, and also his level of communication to the team is very high.
"So for me it's important at the beginning to have a good reference and I feel very grateful to be in this position and then to create a good base to progress to[wards] my potential."
And having plotted a similar path through the junior formulae, the Sauber rookie added: "He's very open to work as a team and we have a good communication between both so far. So the approach of work that we have is also very similar. He was also racing with Kauffman, and also ART, the same as I did, so generally the mentality in some parts is similar."