With Esteban Guttierrez starting at the rear of the grid (on the back of his grid penalty from China), Sauber Team Principal, Monisha Kaltenborn has thrown her support behind the young Mexican driver and weighed to the debate on additional tyres being made available for rookies on Fridays.
Whilst Sauber are running a completely new line-up this year, Kaltenborn backed her team’s decision to go with a relatively inexperienced driving combination, reiterating that both drivers have their own strengths and points of contention.
“With Nico (Hulkenberg) it’s less of an issue because he does have more experience now”, stressed Kaltenborn . “Of course he has been changing a couple of teams in the last few years, so it’s tough for him as well… On Esteban’s (Gutierrez) side, we have been very convinced, and still are, of his talent, so it’s for us now to make sure that he has the surrounding that he can develop that.”
In contrast to Daniel Ricciardo’s comments on Thursday (suggesting that the crucial 20% of a driver’s education happens on Sundays), Monisha believed Esteban’s ability to deal with pressure would have been greater had he had more Friday testing experience.
“I don’t think I really need to reassure him (Gutierrez) that much because he’s quite confident and he also knows why these mistakes have happened”, cited Kaltenborn. “But it’s important that you talk a lot to him and you try to support him in getting used to the situation in Formula One and the pressure, because actually drivers like him, rookie drivers, it’s quite a dilemma, because they hardly have any opportunity to drive the car, especially in Esteban’s case, because he never got any Friday sessions from us.”
When pressed on whether she thought allocating an extra set of harder tyres on Friday would encourage teams to run more rookie drivers, Monisha was more circumspect; outlining the leverage such a move would create for a team, but highlighting it’s inherent deficiencies.
“If you have already a rookie driver who is one of your regular race drivers, do you really want to take away time from them to still get another one in?” questioned Kaltenborn. “On the other hand it’s extremely important as we can see with such drivers that, if they have more opportunities they’re simply better prepared. It will be a difficult call for us if it’s just an option. I’d prefer if actually it went down somewhere in the rules that you have to do this.”
McLaren team Principal offered another side of the coin to the argument, suggesting that any young driver initiative should not be pushed forward at the expense of the Formula One ‘show’.
“At the end of the day, if the people who we’re thinking about in the grandstands”, Whitmarsh added. “I think they come to see Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Button – that’s who they want to see. I think if we all put out rookie drivers they’ve not heard of, I think they feel cheated in some way.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic