Reading AUTOSPORT’s article about Esteban Gutierrez and his role within Haas F1, I couldn’t help but wonder if the expectations on the young Mexican driver were a little too far north if I’m honest.
Gutierrez will team with Romain Grosjean in the inaugural year for Haas F1 who will start with a Ferrari power unit in the back of it’s Dallara chassis. The team, very rightfully so, have been optimistic about their chances and hope to score points in their first year. That’s a tall order but then they do have one of the better engines on the grid.
What may be more concerning is the expectations team owner, Gene Haas, has for Gutierrez:
“He’s young, he wants to be a Formula 1 driver, and if he wants to stay in F1 then he’s going to have to prove he can get things done,” Haas said.
“Any driver that has been in Formula 1 for a number of years and hasn’t won a race, then he’s going to be in the hot seat.
“But as much as he didn’t do anything in ’15, he was in the Ferrari simulator all the time, and he became very familiar with how the engine and transmission package works.
“Because of the knowledge required – and I’ve learned this from Grosjean, about when to recharge your batteries and when to apply the extra power needed on track – you have to know all that if you really want to expect to get the maximum out of the car.”
For a young man like Esteban, you have to give him a car capable of winning races before you use that as a measuring stick for his capabilities and performance delivery expectations.
Gutierrez drove for Sauber and there was no way that was going to place him at the sharp end of the grid fighting for wins and if I’m honest, I don’t sense Haas F1 will be providing that kind of car in 2016 either.
In F1, the measure of a driver has always been his teammate as they are in equal cars. In that case, Adrian Sutil had the measure of Esteban in both 2013 and 2014 so perhaps that’s the consideration Gene should have used when considering Gutierrez for the second seat at Haas F1.
Most likely, Gene was considering Ferrari’s desire to have their reserve driver in the seat rather than finding a driver who had won races. If wins is the litmus test, then Romain Grosjean has a lot to answer for as well, right? He has no wins in F1. Let’s be honest, Romain has a year or two more experience in F1 than Esteban does but his first few years were spent as fodder for Mark Webber who called him a “first-lap nutter” so I am not quite sure I understand what pressure or expectations of Esteban really are at Haas and why.
Lighting a fire under your drivers is fine. Keeping them frosty is perfectly understandable and perhaps that’s all it is but in the end, Ferrari have placed Esteban at Haas F1 as part of their relationship and ultimately it is Ferrari’s expectation of Esteban that truly matters isn’t it? For Esteban anyway.
I met Esteban in Austin and he’s a very nice guy and very knowledgeable of the sport and driving. He understands Ferrari’s program very well and if I’m honest, I was actually impressed with him and his command of the situation. I think Haas F1 will do well to measure Esteban’s pace against Romain and go form there.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT