Inside the mind of an F1 rookie

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Things are getting real for Formula One rookie Esteban Gutierrez.

The Mexican pilot, who has moved into a race seat with Sauber after two seasons of juggling reserve duty for the team and racing in GP2, is moving closer to his F1 debut next month in Australia and the recent pre-season testing has him itching for the moment.

“I actually feel quite established now and I’ll do everything I can to be as best prepared as possible for my first race in Australia,” Gutierrez writes in a “rookie blog” on Formula1.com. “Right now, near the end of the test season, I think that everybody wants to go out do some racing. I feel that everybody is so eager for competition – at least that’s what I am feeling very strongly.

“The adrenaline, the challenges of qualifying, and then my first time on the grid – I can’t wait!”

Gutierrez enters F1 this season after finishing third in last year’s GP2 championship with two feature wins at Valencia and Silverstone, as well as a sprint win in Hungary. He’ll be paired with fourth-year driver and former Force India racer Nico Hulkenberg, who he plans to use as a barometer for his early progress.

“I don’t necessarily want to get his help – because, of course, he is looking for his own benefits, just as I am – but I consider him a very good reference,” wrote Gutierrez of his German counterpart. “The main thing that I expect from him is that we work together as a team, that we will sit down and discuss issues with the engineers, and always have the goal to get the best solution.”

Hulkenberg will certainly test him, but with the Sauber team, at least Gutierrez won’t have to deal with as much pressure as his compatriot, Sergio Perez — who netted three podiums last year for the Swiss squad but must now live up to the always high expectations at McLaren.

Relative to his fellow Mexican, Gutierrez will be racing under the radar. As he develops, that could perhaps prove to be a good thing.