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Haas: 2017 line-up change key to see if issue was driver or team

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Haas Formula 1 chief Guenther Steiner says that the decision to drop Esteban Gutierrez in favor of Kevin Magnussen for 2017 was a key step to see if the driver or the team was behind the No. 21 entry’s failure to score a point last year.

Gutierrez joined Haas for its maiden season in F1 last year, partnering Romain Grosjean, but failed to pick up a single top-10 finish across the course of the year.

By comparison, Grosjean scored 29 points, highlighted by a charge to fifth place in the team’s second outing in Bahrain, impressing the F1 world.

Despite being backed publicly by Haas’ chiefs, Gutierrez was dropped at the end of the year in favor of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, who signed a multi-year deal starting in 2017.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Haas team principal Steiner said that the change was key in understanding where the problem lay in 2016, with Magnussen being high on the shortlist to replace Gutierrez.

“Very simply, you try to improve. Esteban didn’t score any points last year, and it was also important for us to see if it was the driver or us not delivering,” Steiner said.

“That’s why we decided that we need a change. There are not too many drivers in the league of Kevin – and we knew Kevin already, as we had spoken with him already the year before.

“So we talked again and it didn’t take long to come to an agreement.”

Magnussen made an early impression at Haas by scoring points in just his second grand prix, finishing eighth in China.

The Dane appears to have found stability in F1 after a rocky start to life as a grand prix driver, having been dropped by McLaren after his rookie year despite being touted as one of the British marque’s finest young talents.

His story is not dissimilar to that of Grosjean, who was also dropped after a handful of races with Renault in 2009 after replacing Nelson Piquet Jr.

Grosjean went away and won the GP2 title in style, securing a return to F1 in 2012 with Lotus, and has since established himself as one of the sport’s brightest talents.

“I agree that both had some troubles in the past, but difficulties make you better, and both are still in F1, so there must be more to it,” Steiner said.

“But to be fair, we never really investigated why they had to leave teams. We took them as individuals who would suit our mentality at a time when they were free and we wanted them.

“I think they fit pretty well into our team – maybe we are a bit troubled as well! There is the American saying: ‘What makes you suffer makes you tougher!’”

Gutierrez takes home point on Formula E debut in Mexico City

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Esteban Gutierrez made a solid start to life in Formula E by taking a point on debut in Mexico City on Saturday for Techeetah.

Gutierrez announced in January that he would be moving into Formula E after losing his Formula 1 seat with Haas at the end of 2016.

The Mexican driver joined Techeetah and qualified 13th for his debut race, but struggled to get to grips with the energy management on his car in the opening stint, causing him to outside of the points.

A late flurry of drama allowed Gutierrez to rise up the pack, eventually crossing the line in 10th place to cap off a double-points finish for Techeetah after Vergne wound up second behind race winner Lucas di Grassi.

The result means that Gutierrez has as many top-10 finishes in Formula E as in F1, having only scored points once in 59 grand prix starts. That came in a charge to seventh at Suzuka in 2013 while racing for Sauber.

Gutierrez will see out the remainder of the Formula E season in the No. 33 Techeetah, having replaced Ma Qinghua, who stepped back into the role of reserve driver.

Gutierrez’s next Formula E appearance will be on familiar F1 territory as the all-electric series hits the streets of Monaco on May 13.

Esteban Gutierrez confirmed at Techeetah Formula E

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Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez’s team of choice has been confirmed for the balance of the FIA Formula E Championship third season. He’ll run with the Techeetah team, having been announced there today. Gutierrez joins FE after three race seasons and one reserve season in F1, having most recently competed with Haas F1 Team last year in its debut year.

Gutierrez replaces Ma Qing Hua in the active race lineup alongside Jean-Eric Vergne starting from the Mexico City ePrix to be held on April 1, Ma having been relegated to third driver.

“I am very grateful to join Techeetah, a team with real competitiveness,” Gutierrez said in a release. “After four years of incredible experience in F1, I’m now taking a step forward in the future of motorsports. I am especially excited about my debut race in Mexico City. Hopefully I can put on a good show for the passionate home fans.”

Managing director Ivan Yim added, “We are delighted to welcome Esteban to Techeetah. We will have Esteban as prepared as possible for his home race. With the passionate Mexican fans awaiting in the stadium section, the Techeetah team is highly motivated with its new driver lineup.”

Agag expects Gutierrez to mount Formula E title charge in season four

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FIA Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag believes that recent Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez can become a title contender when he races full-time in the all-electric championship.

After losing his seat with the Haas team at the end of the 2016 season, Gutierrez announced earlier this week that he would be joining Formula E for the race in Mexico City in April.

The 2010 GP3 champion is set to also feature in New York City before securing a full-season seat for the championship’s fourth campaign, due to start in the fall of 2017.

Speaking to the Formula E website, Agag spoke warmly of Gutierrez’s arrival, before adding that he believes the Mexican can become a title contender.

“I think that’s great news for the championship,” Agag said.

“We’ve known Esteban for a long time. I was in GP2 when Esteban was there and obviously he’s a great driver. He’s a young driver and has a long career in front of him and is choosing to follow his career after Formula 1 in Formula E.

“At his age, I see a very bright future for him. I think it’s going to be great for the Mexico race to have a local star for the fans to cheer for.

“This year Esteban is going to be on a learning curve in Formula E. He’s missed two races of the season already, so it’s not a season for him to try to win the championship, but a season to learn.

“He’ll race in Mexico and New York. We have a few clashes with other championships that will free up seats and for him to occupy those seats and to learn.

“And then after that in season four, I think he’ll have a proper race driver and will be one of the guys who is going to fight for the championship.”

Gutierrez is expected to step in for one of the drivers unable to race in Mexico and New York due to the clashes with the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Gutierrez joins FIA Formula E grid for selected races

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Esteban Gutierrez will join the FIA Formula E Championship field for at least two races in season three, bringing another Formula 1 veteran into the all-electric open-wheel championship.

The Haas F1 refugee, currently without a seat for the 2017 season and with his only race option likely to be the Manor team if it even makes the grid, will saddle up for his Formula E debut at Mexico City on April 1 with a second outing during the New York City ePrix two-race weekend July 15-16.

No team was revealed during his announcement today, but it was confirmed that Gutierrez will be an official series ambassador. He’s also firmly in talks with a number of teams about joining the grid full-time for season four, the 2017-2018 campaign.