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.

F1 2017 driver review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 4
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 317
Laps Led: 286
Championship Position: 2nd

2017 was supposed to be the year Sebastian Vettel finally fulfilled his ambition of emulating Michael Schumacher by returning Ferrari to its championship-winning heyday.

Instead, it ended in disappointment and frustration – once again.

Ferrari arguably made a greater step across the change in technical regulations for 2017 than any other team, living up to its pre-season tag as favorite by winning the opening round in Australia in fashion.

Vettel and Ferrari led their respective championships following the Monaco Grand Prix as the German ended a 16-year win drought for the Prancing Horse in the principality, and even heading into the summer break, a shot at both championships was looking good.

However, cracks had started to appear. Vettel’s remarkable antics behind the safety car in Baku sparked controversy after driving into Hamilton, suggesting the tension of the title fight was beginning to take its toll on the German.

The final run of flyaways was where things really fell apart for Vettel, though. Singapore looked to be a slam-dunk win, only for a start-line crash also involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen to put 25 free points in Hamilton’s pocket.

Reliability woes then struck in Malaysia and Japan – two more races Vettel could realistically have won – to make it game over in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping things up in Mexico.

Vettel only finished the year 46 points back from Hamilton, proving the impact the three bad races in Asia had. Realistically, this was a title race that should have gone down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Vettel remains a four-time champion, level with Hamilton, who had just one to his name back in 2013 when his rival secured his fourth.

Ferrari’s internal issues will come under the microscope over the off-season, and Vettel himself knows there is plenty to work on. Staying cool under pressure and not letting things boil over as in Baku is the most obvious area for improvement.

But there is reason for hope. If Ferrari can keep up with Mercedes and repeat its impressive step into 2017 through the upcoming off-season, we may well be treated to another Vettel/Hamilton scrap at the front of the field, perhaps settling once and for all who is the greatest driver of the post-Schumacher era.

Season High: A crucial win in Hungary despite battling with a broken steering column.

Season Low: Letting tensions flare in Baku and hitting Hamilton behind the safety car.