Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has defended Esteban Gutierrez's performances in the first 10 races of his debut season in Formula One, saying she thinks the 22-year-old will "come back stronger" from the series' summer break.

Gutierrez, who graduated from GP2 this year after finishing third in 2012, has failed to score a point this year, while team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has finished in the top-ten four times and has accumulated seven points.

When asked whether she expected Gutierrez to score points before the season was out, she said she was "sure" the Mexican would break his duck and finish in the top-ten before the season was over.

"If the car is not as competitive as we expected it to be, if you simply have bad luck then it is very tough on the driver," Kaltenborn told Autosport.

"We need to make sure he keeps his motivation high and try to support him finding consistency," she added.

The Mexican driver has recently been under pressure at Sauber after an announcement that the team are looking to debut now 17-year-old Sergey Sirotkin in 2014 after a trio of Russian businesses - one owned by Sirotkin's father - bought into the struggling Sauber team.

Kaltenborn says she thinks the announcement and speculation surrounding the team may have taken its toll on Gutierrez's confidence, but that she expects him to put it behind him and bounce back in the second half of the season.

"It's good he can reflect on all this, have this time to reassess his position, what he has done right and what hasn't gone so well and I am sure he will come back stronger," she said.

Sauber currently sit eighth in the Constructors Championship with seven points: 17 behind Toro Rosso and six ahead of Williams.

 

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Formula 1