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GP Week : Issue 182
Qualifying 15th and 16th and lining up 15th and 19th wasn’t the sort of weekend Sauber were looking for in Spain, despite perhaps taking some solace from the fact they were but one spot behind the McLaren of Jenson Button. A good start from Esteban Gutierrez gave him the opportunity to capitalize on Adrian Sutil’s derisory pit stop and a broken suspension arm for Romain Grosjean. Button’s struggles for grip negated the Briton as a threat to Gutierrez, and as a result the Mexican racer was up to an incredibly ninth place by lap 10, gaining an average of one place per lap. His meteoric progress was set to continue thanks to a long first stint. In a set of circumstances unheard of outside this Pirelli era, a spate of pit stops from the frontrunners saw Gutierrez leading the Spanish Grand Prix just two laps later. Eager to maximise his time in the Barcelona sun, the young Mexican held off the closing pack of Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen, who were now on fresh rubber, and briefly extended his lead. But gusto soon gave way to common sense as Gutierrez was called into the pits. For the bulk of the race Nico Hulkenberg was engaged in a battle with Jean -Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas for 13th position. Recording an astounding six pit stops (double the optimum strategy for the weekend), Nico’s spirited endeavours came to naught when his pit crew released their driver into the path of the approaching Vergne. The collision damaged Hulkenberg’s front wing end-plate and earned him a stop-go penalty for his trouble. Now slightly out of sync with most of the field in terms of strategy, Gutierrez was able to maximise the Sauber’s potential with light fuel by closing in on the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo for the final points position. He might have run out of time before the flag, but the Mexican rookie recorded the fastest lap of the race in the process. Add that to the time spent at the head of the pack and Gutierrez saw two F1 achievements in an otherwise sombre weekend. Sobering times at Sauber F1 >>> BARCELONA 22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: