Esteban Gutierrez: Top 10s are target for Haas F1


KANNAPOLIS, N.C.  – In a shiny, glass-plated conference room of the gleaming U.S. headquarters of newly christened Haas F1, Esteban Gutierrez confidently smiled through 36 minutes of talking firsts in Formula One.

The Mexican driver appropriately was flanked by a grainy wall mural illustrating inaugural series champion Giuseppe Farina’s victory in Formula One’s debut race at the legendary Silverstone in 1950.

Gutierrez, 24, doesn’t harbor the lofty ambitions to achieve those sorts of firsts in Haas F1’s introductory season.

But the former Ferrari test driver clearly believes he and teammate Romain Grosjean can make a splash in 2016 – boldly predicting top-10 contention out of the box for the startup team owned by Gene Haas.

“This is our target from the beginning,” Gutierrez said during a roundtable interview Tuesday with four Charlotte, North Carolina-based reporters. “We want to be there. Obviously we need to be careful on our expectations. It’s our first season.

“We are working really hard to get as prepared as possible.”

It’s more than two months from the March 20 season opener in Australia, but the preparations are well under way for Haas F1. The team already has shipped a container of equipment and pit support via sea freight to Australia for its debut (the cars will be flown separately to the circuit).

Before heading Down Under, a critical preseason test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, will begin late next month.

Beyond just the opportunity to shake shaking down its cars for the first time, Haas F1 eagerly is anticipating the chance to size up its competition for the first time. While he has no illusions about racing with the Mercedes Gutierrez said he doesn’t have a sense yet of which teams he expects to battle to crack the top half of the field.

“It’s always difficult to say because we don’t know who is strongest or isn’t strong,” Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner said. “You’re trying to hit a moving target. We don’t know what they’re coming out with, so it’s always difficult to say who will be the competition or how good they are until you get to Spain. You get a good understanding there. You don’t get the complete picture (until) Australia.”

Gutierrez said the optics already are better at Haas F1 than for recent startup team failures and implosions such as HRT, Caterham and Marussia. Haas initially revealed his intentions to enter F1 in January 2014, and the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, who is known in NASCAR for having a maverick streak, initially considered plunging into F1 within the year.

He elected instead to defer entry for another year and work to strengthen ties with Ferrari, which will supply the team’s engines, gearboxes and technical support.

After touring Haas’ facilities in Banbury, England, and Kannapolis, Gutierrez said prudence was the right move.

“It is a very different concept,” he said. “I think Guenther and Gene together have done a very good job, especially with preparing a long time and not precipitating things or doing things quickly in order to start as soon as possible.

“They have done things properly in putting in place a good structure of an engineering group and everything has been very important. They take their time to prepare things for the first season. We have a new team, so we need to be careful on what we can expect.”

Gutierrez is expecting more than what he produced during his first stint in F1. Two disappointing seasons at Sauber yielded only one top 10 (a seventh at Japan in October 2013) in 38 starts, and the Monterrey, Mexico, native believes Haas F1’s cars will be more reflective of his ability.

“Yes, but it’s more important to prove we can be a strong team together, and that we can be efficient and have a good development,” he said. “Also for me, obviously as a driver, it is important, but it doesn’t matter which level we are. You can always be proving as a driver that you can be consistent, and people know that from behind the scenes.

“I think at the beginning we need to focus more on finishing every lap and every race and having all the data accumulated, having good feedback, focusing on team integration in order to be consistent and minimize mistakes. Because there will, for sure, be some mistakes that we will do as a new team. We need to address them quickly.”

If the team can, it could secure Gutierrez’s second experience with achieving a successful first in America, where he already enjoys strong roots through family vacations to South Padre Island, Texas, and New York.

“I love it,” he said with a smile. “Of course. I’m a neighbor! My country is a neighbor. So from childhood, I’ve been visiting the U.S.”

It also was in this country where he began his professional career in earnest, finishing second in the Formula BMW USA Series with four victories and eight podiums.

“It represents a lot to me because (it was) the first year I drove a proper racing car in a racing series,” he said. “It was for a Canadian team, but it was in the U.S., and I feel very proud to be part of Haas’ project, which is an American team that has very big targets.

“I’m sure that together we will have a very good journey in the future.”


Supercross 2023: Results and points after Seattle


The final results from the Monster Energy Supercross race in Seattle suggests the season is turning into a two-rider battle as Eli Tomac scored his sixth win of the season to tie Cooper Webb for the points’ lead and Chase Sexton crashed in yet another race.

Tomac downplayed the neck strain that caused him to lose the red plate for two weeks, but without that holding him back, it would appear it might have been a bigger problem than he admitted. Despite finishing on the podium in Detroit, Tomac has not shown the late-race strength everyone has come to expect. He was in a slump after scoring a season-worst in Indianapolis and described his sixth win as a “bounce back”.

With this win, Tomac tied James Stewart for second on the all-time list with 50 career Supercross victories. Six rounds remain and there is no sign that Tomac is slowing down. Jeremy McGrath’s 72 wins remains untouchable, for the moment at least.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

Cooper Webb was disappointed with second-place, but he recognized the Supercross results at Seattle could have been much worse. He rode in fifth for the first nine laps of the race, behind Tomac and Sexton. When Sexton crashed from the lead and Tomac took the top spot, Webb knew he could not afford to give up that many points and so he dug deep and found enough points to share the red plate when the series returns in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona for a Triple Crown event.

Justin Barcia scored his third podium of the season, breaking out of a threeway tie of riders who have not been the presumed favorites to win the championship. Barcia scored the podium without drama or controversy. It was his fourth consecutive top-five and his 10th straight finish of eighth or better.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Jason Anderson kept his perfect record of top-10s alive with a fourth-place finish. Tied for fourth in the standings and 49 out of the lead, his season has been like a death of a thousand cuts. He’s ridden exceptionally well, but the Big Three have simply been better.

Sexton rebounded from his fall to finish fifth. He entered the race 17 points out of the lead and lost another five in Seattle. Mistakes have cost Sexton 22 points in the last three races and that is precisely how far he is behind Tomac and Webb. Unless those two riders bobble, this deficit cannot overcome.

The rider who ties Anderson for fourth in the points, Ken Roczen finished just outside the top five in sixth after he battled for a podium position early in the race.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

The 250 West riders got back in action after four rounds of sitting on the sideline and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left of: in Victory Lane. Lawrence now has four wins and a second-place finish in five rounds. One simply doesn’t get close to perfection than that.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but two races though 11 rounds. Jett failed to win the Anaheim Triple Crown and Hunter Lawrence failed to win the Arlington Triple Crown format in the 250 East division. In two weeks, the series has their final Triple Crown race in Glendale. When he was reminded of this from the top of the Seattle podium, Jett replied, “oof”.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

RJ Hampshire finished second in the race and is second in the points. This is fourth time in five rounds that Hampshire finished second to Lawrence. If not for a crash-induced 11th-place finish in the Arlington Triple Crown, he would be much closer in the points standings. With that poor showing, he is 23 points behind Lawrence.

Cameron McAdoo made a lot of noise in his heat. Riding aggressively beside Larwence, the two crashed in the preliminary. McAdoo could never seem to get away from Hampshire in the Main and as the two battled, the leader got away. It would have been interesting to see how they would have raced head-to-head when points were on the line.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 West Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

The Supercross results in Seattle were kind to a couple of riders on the cusp of the top five. Enzo Lopes scored his second top-five and fourth top-10 of the season after crossing the finish line fourth in Seattle.

Tying his best finish of the season for the third time, Max Vohland kept his perfect record of top-10s alive. Vohland is seventh in the points.

2023 Results

Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 10: Chase Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s