Esteban Gutierrez in profile
Last Updated: 07/01/16 4:55pm
Esteban Gutierrez has been handed a second chance to make a name for himself at motorsport's top level with American newcomers Haas.
After a year of learning at the most historic team of them all, Ferrari, the young Mexican returns to a race seat for the first time since being dropped by Sauber at the end of 2014.
Although Gutierrez only tested Ferrari's car twice during the course of 2015, he believes the experiences gained behind the scenes at Maranello as reserve driver can assist the start-up team in their development alongside the more seasoned Romain Grosjean.
Gutierrez raced in F1 for two seasons with Sauber but the youngster still arguably has it all to prove having finished in the points just once in his first 38 races.
Hailing from Monterrey in Mexico, Gutierrez first got behind a kart competitively in 2004 and contested the final three events of the Mexican Rotax Max Challenge. A full campaign followed the next year, with the young charger finishing the season as Mexican Champion at the Grand National in Indiana, USA, and earning a place at the World Finals in Malaysia.
Gutierrez stayed in karting in 2006, finishing first in the North Mexico regional series of Rotax Max, and also winning all five rounds of the Camkart Challenge Mexico. That year he also received his first taste of single-seater action with a two-day test in Dynamic Motorsports' Formula Renault 2000 car, matching the lap record at Zacatecas.
A move north of the border beckoned in 2007 as Gutierrez moved to Formula BMW USA. He made an immediate impact, taking pole position at nine of the 14 races on his way to second in the championship. A September test in an A1GP car followed at Silverstone, ahead of a permanent move to Europe in 2008 to compete in Formula BMW Europe.
Gutierrez took the championship by storm, finishing on the podium at 12 of the 16 races and picking up seven wins on his way to the title. The achievement made him the youngest Mexican driver ever to win an international title, aged just 17.
The F3 Euroseries beckoned in 2009 and Gutierrez followed in the footsteps of former series champions such as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg in being signed to the dominant ART GP team. However, while stable-mate Jules Bianchi took the crown, the rookie Gutierrez fared less well and finished only ninth - some 88 points behind the Frenchman.
Better was to follow in 2010, however, as ART entered the inaugural GP3 Series, with Gutierrez sweeping to five race wins and four further podiums to seal the maiden title. To underline his supremacy and pace during the season, he also claimed three hat-tricks of pole, fastest lap and race win.
His ascendancy continued into the 2011 season as he took his first steps into GP2 with ART, although a 13th place championship finish highlighted that his debut year at that level was far from plain sailing. Valencia was a clear highlight, however, as Gutierrez picked up his only win of the season in the Sprint Race, setting fastest lap along the way, which forced others in the paddock to take notice.
Having by now made his full F1 test debut with Sauber in Abu Dhabi, Gutierrez assumed the role of lead driver at ART - renamed as Lotus GP - alongside rookie team-mate James Calado in 2012 and made major strides up the order. Three wins, four podium finishes and 176 points meant he finished a commendable third in the championship, while his total of five fastest laps during the season equalled that of champion Davide Valsecchi.
Having first tested for Sauber in 2009, Gutierrez made his F1 practice debut for the Swiss team at the 2012 Indian GP, filling in for countryman Sergio Perez who was sidelined by illness, and after a further two days running at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test.
He was then promoted to a race seat in place of the McLaren-bound Perez for 2013 where he partnered Nico Hulkenberg. With the C32 initially proving a tricky mount to master, Gutierrez's F1 career began inauspiciously as he crashed on his qualifying debut in Melbourne and failed to finish in the points in his first 14 races. But seventh place, and six points, at Suzuka steadied the ship and while no further top 10s arrived thereafter, Gutierrez earned a reprieve for 2014.
However, his second year at Hinwil proved wholly forgettable as neither he nor new team-mate Adrian Sutil finished in the points all season. The most spectacular moment came when his Sauber was flipped by an inattentive Pastor Maldonado under the lights of Bahrain. Dropped by year end, Ferrari soon provided sanctuary for Gutierrez who was made reserve driver to Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
The Scuderia's connection to Haas, and his own North American roots, then made his appointment at F1's newest team logical for 2016.