Esteban Gutierrez admits he needs to raise his game in qualifying.
Sauber’s rookie driver has been out-qualified by team mate Nico Hulkenberg in all six races so far and has been a second slower than him on average.
“I think we lack qualifying speed,” he said during a Q&A session. “That is something we need to improve to start from a better position because if we start at the front and we do what we did last time out we could finish better, but you have to be consistent through the weekend, not only in qualifying or the race.”
Gutierrez is yet to score a point but did hold the lead for two laps during the Spanish Grand Prix. However he admitted afterwards “for some time I did not know I was leading”.
“But it was a great feeling to do the lap times we were doing, and to enjoy the car with clean air ahead.”
He went on to record the fastest lap during the race: “Knowing that today I was the fastest on the track was very special, a step forward and thanks to the team because we really have worked together on the details to adapt the car to my driving style,” he said.
Sauber have so far failed to replicate the promise they showed during 2012. They are concentrating their development on the rear of the car at the moment and recently introduced an upgraded rear wing.
“It made a difference in terms of stability in curves because we had the problem that we had very little room for mistakes and now the new wing has helped us to improve there,” said Gutierrez.
“The downside is that we lost straight speed and now we have to work on that to improve speed and keep stability. That is why it was so difficult to overtake.”
ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).
“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.
“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”
For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.
“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.
“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”
Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.
“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.