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Esteban Gutierrez hails ‘step forward’ at Sauber

May 12, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

AUTO-PRIX-F1-SPAIN-PRACTICE Getty Images

Esteban Gutierrez has praised his team following a strong run to 11th at the Spanish Grand Prix today.

The Mexican driver had come under fire following a quiet start to the season, but he managed to look after his tires and ge the best out of his car to lead after the leaders had stopped for the first time.

“I focused on getting the most out of the car today, and it was important to achieve a result like this for me and the team,” Gutierrez said in a team statement. “The team has given me the patience and tools to improve as a driver and this is what I could extract from the car.”

Like many, Gutierrez pointed towards the Pirelli tires as being crucial to securing a good result, although he admitted that he surpassed his own expectations on the aggressive compounds.

“It was a tough race and tire management was critical. At the beginning of the race I was quite surprised about how much I could get out of the tyres. The last two stints were a bit more difficult, but this is a step forward.”

Gutierrez made his fourth stop late on, and despite trailing 10th placed Daniel Ricciardo by over 10 seconds after exiting the pits, he managed to close on the final lap. Unfortunately for Sauber, Ricciardo held on to beat Gutierrez to the line by 0.3 seconds.

He may not have scored, but Esteban Gutierrez certainly appears to be finding his feet in Formula One. Today’s result shows that he is capable of performing, and with names such as Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado behind him, Gutierrez has every reason to be proud of his result.

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