Gutierrez: Haas problems making me look bad

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Esteban Gutierrez claims that the problems that the new Haas Formula 1 Team is facing with its car are making him look bad.

Gutierrez joined NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new F1 operation at the beginning of the season after spending a year in a reserve role with Ferrari.

The Mexican is yet to score points with Haas, enduring a points drought in F1 that dates back to the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix when he finished seventh for Sauber.

Gutierrez finished 17th in first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday before ending the second session 21st overall, and was limited to nine laps in the afternoon by an electrical issue.

Speaking to reporters after practice, Gutierrez made no secret of his frustration, saying that the issues with the car mean his results do not reflect the work he is putting in.

“I honestly put myself aside from this because it’s not really my responsibility to fix the car,” Gutierrez said.

“The team has to get on top of this. I am here to drive, to drive as fast as possible and it is what I really love doing.

“It’s not nice because it’s making me look very bad to the outside as a driver.

“All the f*****g great job I’m doing on the inside is not really perceived by the outside.

“So it’s a little bit frustrating on that side and also showing my pace I’ve been quick on everything, I just hope to get the car that I deserve in order to put the results on the paper.”

Despite his struggles, Gutierrez said that he does not feel under pressure to perform, believing that it instead lies with those responsible for the issues with the car.

“I don’t worry about myself. At the moment I feel very good,” Gutierrez said.

“Every time I drive the car I enjoy it a lot, I’m on top of everything and I’m doing my best with what I have.

“But this pressure is not on me, this pressure is on the people responsible for it.”

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds