Esteban Gutierrez hails ‘step forward’ at Sauber

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Esteban Gutierrez has praised his team following a strong run to 11th at the Spanish Grand Prix today.

The Mexican driver had come under fire following a quiet start to the season, but he managed to look after his tires and ge the best out of his car to lead after the leaders had stopped for the first time.

“I focused on getting the most out of the car today, and it was important to achieve a result like this for me and the team,” Gutierrez said in a team statement. “The team has given me the patience and tools to improve as a driver and this is what I could extract from the car.”

Like many, Gutierrez pointed towards the Pirelli tires as being crucial to securing a good result, although he admitted that he surpassed his own expectations on the aggressive compounds.

“It was a tough race and tire management was critical. At the beginning of the race I was quite surprised about how much I could get out of the tyres. The last two stints were a bit more difficult, but this is a step forward.”

Gutierrez made his fourth stop late on, and despite trailing 10th placed Daniel Ricciardo by over 10 seconds after exiting the pits, he managed to close on the final lap. Unfortunately for Sauber, Ricciardo held on to beat Gutierrez to the line by 0.3 seconds.

He may not have scored, but Esteban Gutierrez certainly appears to be finding his feet in Formula One. Today’s result shows that he is capable of performing, and with names such as Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado behind him, Gutierrez has every reason to be proud of his result.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.