© Getty Images

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

1 Comment

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.

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.