The biggest reason behind the Haas Formula One team’s decision to replace Esteban Gutierrez was a simple, emotion-free look at the Mexican’s results over the season.
It would be pessimistic to say that Gutierrez wasn’t good enough to score points for Haas. He wasn’t as effective as Romain Grosjean, but was unlucky not to finish in the top ten throughout the season. No less than five 11th place finishes sums up the Mexican’s allergy to championship points.
More disappointing were the times he started in a strong position after doing the hard work in qualifying, just for it to go wrong on race day. In Brazil, he was in a prime position to clinch some end-of-season points for Haas. He lined up 12th on the grid in a race that was a lucky dip, but never got to end due to technical attrition.
There were a few appearances in Q3 too, Gutierrez surprising many with a 10th place start at Monza, just for a very poor start to send him into the clutches of the rear-pack. He recovered to finish 13th, but it was a big opportunity to convert a good qualifying result into points.
In hindsight, Gutierrez has reflected on Haas’ decision to replace him with Kevin Magnussen. He said,
“The timing for me in F1 in general hasn’t been great in the years I’ve been there – that, together with the fact I was too confident things were taken care of, created another difficult situation for me.
There was a lot of energy put in by a lot of people to build up the team. It was tricky to have a full package for two cars.
At the beginning of the season things started very slowly on my car – there were a lot of inconsistencies. That started to be something that led to miscommunication inside the team as to what the situation actually was, and why certain things were happening.”
– Esteban Gutierrez
This suggests that the updates on Esteban’s car over the season were slow, the team taking preference to back Grosjean, their early points hoarder. It explains the rift between Gutierrez and the team, had he bitten the bullet and done a Barrichello (played second-fiddle without complaint), it might have been different for the Mexican driver. It is possible that Haas will take this approach into 2017, so the battle between Grosjean and Magnussen early on will be intense if they are contesting number one status within the team.
Gutierrez concluded with,
“I still feel very grateful to them.
How things developed through the year is still a bit unclear to me, but that’s in the past and I don’t carry that with me anymore. I don’t regret how things were for me, but I now know how I can do things better.
I take that experience and work for the future.”
– Esteban Gutierrez
Gutierrez will contest the Mexico ePrix in the Formula E series in a one-off cameo. His race programme for 2017 remains unclear. There was an outside chance that he’d be racing for Manor in 2017, but that’s out of the window too…