Esteban Gutierrez

Gutierrez not expecting miracles at Sauber in 2014

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After a difficult start to the season, Esteban Gutierrez is not expecting any quick fix at Sauber as both he and teammate Adrian Sutil continue to struggle with the C33 car.

The team is yet to score any points in 2014, and currently sits behind minnows Marussia in the constructors’ championship. In a media session today at Silverstone, Gutierrez was honest about the team’s current state.

“I have to say, at the moment, it cannot be worse,” he said. “We can only go for better things and this is what we have to keep ourselves working [towards]. We have no other options at the moment.”

The best thing about the car? “It’s very strong so when I crashed in the wall in Montreal it broke the chassis!” he joked.

In 2013, Sauber enjoyed an upturn in fortunes towards the end of the year, but Gutierrez is not expecting a repeat in 2014.

“To be honest we cannot fall down into that thought, because last year was pretty special,” he explained. “First of all, the tires were changed. Secondly, aerodynamically, we had something that we found pretty unusual which normally doesn’t happen.

“This year it’s not really the case. We are not really far off to the expectations from the wind tunnel, this kind of thing, so there’s not really something that’s going to change the whole situation.

“And we have to be truthful to ourselves that we cannot just sit and hope that things are going to change like last year. At the moment, we are working a lot to try to find a few tenths, but it’s not going to be one second or even half a second.

“Obviously with some of the parts we can bring, aerodynamically, [it] will be a boost, but apart from that it’s not going to be huge.”

Gutierrez heads into this weekend’s British Grand Prix with a ten place grid penalty for an unsafe release during the Austrian Grand Prix.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.