Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez certainly did not disappoint the large Mexican contingency that was present in Austin for today’s United States Grand Prix, with some reports suggest that as much as 40% of the crowd was cheering on the two drivers who flirted with the points throughout the race.
Gutierrez’s charge to fourteenth in the race at the Circuit of the Americas was impressive given the number of setbacks he suffered throughout the weekend. After impressing in qualifying to finish in tenth place, the Sauber driver was given a ten-place grid penalty for blocking Pastor Maldonado during Q1 that meant that he started the race from P20. A first-lap run in meant that he was forced to pit on the first lap for a change of tires, immediately putting him onto a two-stop strategy.
Nevertheless, he fought back well to find himself scrapping with Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo for tenth place on the last lap, but, in an overzealous attempt to pass Jean-Eric Vergne, Gutierrez spun off into the gravel on the last lap and eventually brought his car home in fourteenth place. He is now under investigation after the incident.
Sergio Perez managed to score points for the third race in a row, answering the critics who supported McLaren’s decision to drop him in favor of Kevin Magnussen. A good start saw him leapfrog Fernando Alonso at the start, but he dropped behind the Ferrari driver after his pit stop, narrowly failing to get ahead. He was then unable to keep up with Alonso’s pace, eventually crossing the line in P7 ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.
With both drivers still looking for a seat on next year’s grid, these two gutsy drives should have caught the attention of many teams who could be looking to bring a Mexican driver in for 2014.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”