He’s the first rookie to be confirmed on the 2013 grid and the announcement has raised more than a little debate so its about time he had his own thread. Due to the fact he’s replacing a very popular driver who has had a fair rate of success, and the Mexican sponsorship the Sauber team has, his appointment hasn’t exactly been met with a wave of excitement and the words ‘pay driver’ can be heard being mumbled in dark corners of internet forums. I will have to say being a massive Kobi fan I was one of those mumblers but then I took a closer look at the stats. Esteban Manuel Gutiérrez Gutiérrez (so good they named him twice) was born 5th August in Mpnterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico. At 16 Esteban graduated from Karting to single seater racing by taking part in the Formula BMW USA series. He finished second in the series and at the tender age of 17 he packed his bags and was off to Europe for the Formula BMW Europe series which he promptly won at the first attempt. The following season he moved up to the Formula 3 Euroseries and by his standards had a rather average season and placed 9th in the championship. 2010 saw the beginning of the GP3 series which was dominated by Gutierrez from start to finish with 5 wins and 9 podiums. His GP3 title saw him earn a step up to GP2 as well as the Sauber test driver spot. His first season in GP2 was hardly a run away success with him only scoring 15 points but it did see him take 2 podiums, a pole and a win so he did show some potential as well as getting some track time with Sauber in F1. His 2012 GP2 campaign started slowly but he was scoring points. It wasn’t until Valencia that he scored a victory and despite 2 more following in Britain and Hungary he was never really in the championship race. He did secure a clear third though which was obviously enough for Telmex and Sauber as he will be on the grid for 2013. But the majority of people aren’t welcoming him with open arms because they see him as coming in and replacing a popular driver because of sponsorship reasons. Whilst there is an element of this it is an actual shame as Gutierrez has one of the best junior records of any rookie coming into F1 in recent years, he certainly has a better junior record than Sergio Perez, and whilst it might have been another year down the line there is no question that he would have/does deserve his place on the F1 grid and whilst his nationality probably plays a part in his appointment there are some other reasons you can see too. Throughout his junior career Gutierrez has had one thing that neither of the Sauber drivers have had this season, consistency. In his GP3 championship years he had 10 points finishes out of 16 – last year in GP2 he had 19 points finishes out of 24. It could be argued that if the 2 Sauber drivers had that kind of consistency then the team would have been able to secure 5th in the constructors championship. So if Esteban can convert his junior form into F1 then surely Sauber are laughing. However I do worry for the lad as I can’t help but feel he’s on a loser unless he hits the ground running amazingly fast. With a team-mate with as much skill as Hulkenberg he’s going to have a difficult job of keeping up, add to that the fact he’s replacing Kobi and I can see the media and the fans turning on him very quickly if results don’t go well and it could dent his confidence. I guess we’ll have to see which direction he goes in when he gets thrown into the F1 shark pool next year. What does anyone else think? Sink or swim for Gutierrez?