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Gutierrez ‘definitely not done’ with F1, wants full-time race program

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MONACO – Esteban Gutierrez says he is “definitely not done” with Formula 1 despite making the move into Formula E after losing his seat with Haas at the end of the 2016 season.

Gutierrez raced for Sauber through 2013 and 2014 before stepping back into a reserve role with Ferrari, which ultimately led to a move to the start-up Haas team for 2016 in a race seat.

While teammate Romain Grosjean was able to score a number of points finishes, Gutierrez failed to take a single top-10 result through 21 races for the team, leading to his dismissal at the end of the season.

Gutierrez has since moved into Formula E with the Techeetah team, but the Mexican remains determined to return to F1 in a full-time seat seat in the future.

“Definitely I’m not done [with F1]. I’ve taken this step which to me was very important to do something proper,” Gutierrez told NBC Sports in Monaco.

“I had opportunity to be there as a third driver, but I wanted to focus on a racing program. Step by step, you know achieving the things that I want to achieve.

“I feel confident, I’ve been preparing a lot physically. I made quite a big step on that side, preparing for the races here in Formula E, driving a different car.

“It’s anyway a great experience to have.”

When asked if he’d had a fair shot in F1 yet, Gutierrez said that he had not been able to fully display his talent through his three seasons on the grid.

“I wouldn’t say it was not fair, but it was not really the chance to show my speed,” Gutierrez said.

“I think there are things that happen in life for a reason, and I’m going to keep pushing. I’m very motivated and looking forward to what’s in the future.

“I’m not really thinking about what’s in the past. The past just gives you lessons, whatever the situation was, it’s always good to learn.

“I take that as experience. I think it will be good.”

Outside of F1, Gutierrez admitted that he finds both IndyCar and the FIA World Endurance Championship interesting racing options, but doubts he’ll move into the latter until much later in his career.

“I think both are very interesting. Probably in my case, IndyCar is more attractive. I think WEC is still something I think of as in the future.

“I’m still quite young, so there’s much more to learn and much more to do. So IndyCar is quite attractive. Let’s see what all of the different options are.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

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The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).