Oct 13, 2013, 6:00 AM EST
Esteban Gutierrez will be celebrating tonight after scoring his first points in Formula One, having made his debut at the beginning of the season. The Mexican driver ran strongly throughout the race at Suzuka today to cross the line in seventh place behind his teammate and ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.
Having qualified in fourteenth place, Gutierrez made a fantastic start to jump up to ninth and he remained in the fight for the final points-paying positions for a large part of the race. However, he did not simply fall backwards, battling for position with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen before eventually losing out to both drivers. A drive-through penalty for Massa saw the Brazilian fall back down the order, allowing Gutierrez to make up a position. He then moved up to P9 on lap thirty-seven with a great overtake on Jean-Eric Vergne before benefitting from late pit stops for Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg.
In the final few laps, Rosberg did close up on the back of the Sauber, but the German driver was asked to save fuel. As a result, Gutierrez kept the three-time grand prix winner at bay to score his first points of the season.
Not only are these Gutierrez’s first points of the season, but they are also the first for any of the five rookies on the grid in 2013. Valtteri Bottas, Giedo van der Garde, Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi are all yet to score.
Gutierrez’s result also allowed Sauber to breakaway from Toro Rosso in the battle for seventh in the constructors’ championship, with the team now fourteen points ahead and just seventeen behind sixth-placed Force India.