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Gutierrez F1 Career Journey Chasing a Comeback at Haas in 2016

Esteban Gutierrez’s Remarkable Return to F1 with Haas

16/01/2024

After two challenging years at Sauber, and a year as the third driver at Ferrari in Maranello, Gutierrez managed to make a somewhat surprising comeback with Haas F1 in 2016.

Gutierrez F1 Career Journey

The Mexican found a haven in the new team on the grid, which had a strong start to its journey with two consecutive point finishes.

These finishes were solely credited to Romain Grosjean. Throughout 2016, the 29 points earned by Haas were all scored by the French driver.

In his defense, Gutierrez finished in 11th place five times, just shy of the top 10…

However, these consecutive 11th places were not enough to redeem his record in the eyes of Günther Steiner. The former team principal of Haas had no trouble replacing Gutierrez with Kevin Magnussen in 2017. The Mexican remembers…

“Romain is obviously a fast driver, and I was happy to match his pace on many occasions, and often demonstrated very good pace compared to him…”

“It was frustrating to finish 11th so many times. And there were many instances when I was about to score points and then faced brake failures or technical issues, and, you know, it just didn’t work out. There was no reason.”

“In fact, we were doing everything we could, the work was done, I was really committed, I was really focused. I really tried to put that frustration aside because I knew it was all about perseverance and that it would eventually pay off. But it didn’t.”

Behind the scenes, there were apparently some political intrigues that also displeased Gutierrez…

“The relationship with the team wasn’t working as a whole. There were internal dynamics that I didn’t really feel comfortable with.”

Gutierrez’s Shift: Racing to Entrepreneurship

“And then, of course, there was the performance aspect of Guenther [Steiner]’s argument at the end. I was very disappointed when I asked him: Okay, why didn’t you consider keeping me as a driver? He replied: ‘Because you didn’t score any points’.”

“And I thought, okay, that’s a disappointing answer because it’s not a valid argument when I’ve been 11th so many times and very close to scoring points. I was really consistent, fast in the race, fast in qualifying, and many times when I was about to score points, [we had] mechanical failures.”

From Mercedes Development Driver to Entrepreneur

Gutierrez then turned to Formula E, where he also didn’t find much success. He eventually found a new role at Mercedes F1 starting in 2018. First as a development driver, then as a brand ambassador for Latin America.

Toto Wolff had warned that joining Mercedes, Gutierrez wouldn’t be high in the hierarchy. “I’ll be serving coffee!” joked the former Sauber driver.

But he learned a lot, especially about operations, business, and management. This led him to later start a sustainable steel business with his family.

“When I was part of the team (Mercedes), I took the opportunity to look into different sectors of the team, get to know different people, understand how a world champion team operates. And it was an incredible experience.”

“Now with my family, we are also into real estate, investing in education in schools, and then with my personal businesses, we are in the process of launching a private investment fund to continue investing and buying more businesses.”

“My experience as a race driver has given me insights into many aspects of business.”

Gutierrez: From F1 to Business

“I have always been interested in the operational side of the team. I have always been interested not only in the technical aspect but also in the commercial, legal, and marketing aspects. By bringing all these elements together, I have learned a lot.”

“I have also learned a lot from Toto, about the combination of business and racing and his involvement in the Formula 1 team, and he has been a great mentor to me in this aspect. In a high-performing organization like Mercedes, you can then transpose many of these values and attributes into other organizations.”

While he is fulfilled in his new life as an entrepreneur, does Gutierrez not feel a sense of unfinished business when reconsidering his F1 career, concluded with just one Grand Prix in the points, in Japan in 2013 (7th place with Sauber)?

“Of course, I would have liked to do more, that’s my competitive side. Not satisfied with what I achieved in Formula 1, but I have reached a point where it took a lot of strength to tell myself: This is what I could have achieved in Formula 1, I take that as an experience: I learned a lot. I learned a lot. I took many lessons from this experience. What is my new vision?”

“When you are a racing driver, you have a very clear vision: I would like to be a Formula 1 world champion. And every day, you work towards achieving that vision. But when you realize that this is no longer the case, you feel lost.”

“I may not have reached that stage, but I reached a very good level; I became one of the 20 drivers in the world and one of the six Mexicans.”

Esteban Gutierrez F1 Career Journey Chasing a Comeback at Haas in 2016. Esteban Gutierrez F1 Career Journey Chasing a Comeback at Haas in 2016. Gutierrez F1 Career Journey Chasing a Comeback at Haas in 2016

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